How Much Weight Can a Descender Hold?

Have you ever wondered how much weight a descender can hold? Well, we’ve got the answer for you! Read on to find out how much weight your trusty little device can handle.

How much weight can a descender hold?

Descenders are classified according to the amount of weight they can safely support. This depends on the model of the descender and the specifications set by the manufacturer.

The three main categories are light-duty (up to 150kg/330lbs), medium-duty (up to 200kg/440lbs) and heavy-duty (up to 250kg/550lbs). Most small, lightweight descenders are only rated to hold between 150 and 200 pounds. These devices are typically used for rappelling, rather than for descending in a technical rescue situation. For example, the Black Diamon ATC – XP is a small, lightweight descender that is rated to hold between 150 and 200 pounds. The Petzl ID is another small, lightweight descender that is rated to hold between 160 and 230 pounds.

If you need a descender that can hold more weight, you will need to look for a heavier-duty model. For example, the Petzl I’D LOCK is a heavier-duty descender that is rated to hold between 230 and 310 pounds. The Black Diamond Big Wall and the Mammut Ophir Speed are two other heavier-duty models that are rated to hold between 280 and 350 pounds. If you weigh 200kg/440lbs and will be wearing full climbing gear (harness, shoes, etc.), you will need a heavy-duty descender.

In general, it is safe to say that most descenders will hold at least double the weight of the climber, if not more. However, it is always best to err on the side of caution when using this type of gear. If you are unsure about the strength of your descender, test it before using it in an actual rappel by suspending a heavy object (such as another climber) from it.

The different types of descenders

There are four main types of mechanical descenders: auto-locking, manual-locking, semi-auto-locking, and non-locking devices. All have their own advantages and disadvantages that make them more suitable for different types of climbing:

  • Auto-locking devices are the most versatile and can be used for belaying, rappelling, and hauling. They have a mechanism that locks the device automatically when weighted, making them very safe to use. These devices are usually larger and heavier than other types of descenders, making them less popular with climbers who value lightness and compactness.
  • Manual-locking devices must be locked manually by the user when not in use. This can be done with a thumbscrew or a lever. These devices are lighter than auto-locking devices but not as safe, as there is a greater chance of human error.
  • Semi-auto-locking devices are a compromise between auto-locking and manual-locking devices. They have an auto-lock feature that is engaged when the device is weighted, but this can be disengaged by the user when necessary. These devices offer a good balance of safety and convenience.
  • Non-locking devices do not have any locking mechanism at all. This makes them the lightest and most compact type of descender, but also the most dangerous to use. Non-locking devices should only be used by experienced climbers in controlled environments such as indoor climbing walls.

Most descenders on the market today are made from aluminum, which is both strong and lightweight. Some models also include ruggedized features such as stainless steel wear plates or extra-thick walled tubing, which makes them ideal for use in harsh environments or when descending heavier loads. When choosing a descender, it’s important to select one that is rated for the maximum weight you anticipate descending.

The different types of descenders available

There are many different types of descenders available on the market these days. They vary in weight capacity, dimensions, price, and more. So, how do you know which one to choose? Here is a list of the most popular descenders, along with their weight capacity and other features:

  • Black Diamond ATC: The ATC (Air Traffic Controller) from Black Diamond is a versatile descender that can be used for rappelling and belaying. It has a weight capacity of 200 pounds and is made from anodized aluminum.
  • Petzl Grigri 2: The Grigri 2 from Petzl is a popular choice for climbers who want a little extra safety while rappelling. It has an auto-locking feature that engages if you let go of the handle and can hold weights up to 230 pounds.
  • Petzl I’d DiD: The I’d DiD from Petzl is a heavier-duty descender that can be used for rappelling or belaying. It has a weight capacity of 300 pounds and is made from stainless steel.
  • So, what’s the best descender for you? It all depends on your needs and budget.

If you’re looking for something lightweight and versatile, the ATC is a great choice. If you want something a little more heavy-duty, the I’d DiD is a good option. And if you’re looking for extra safety while rappelling, the Grigri 2 is worth considering. So, what’s the best descender for you? It all depends on your needs and budget.

The benefits of using a descender

When you’re rappelling, rock climbing, or mountaineering, a descender is an essential tool. A descender is a device that attaches to your harness and controls your descent down a rope. Descenders come in a variety of designs, but all have the same basic function — to help you safely and efficiently control your rate of descent.

One of the main benefits of using a descender is that it allows you to safely descend at a much slower pace than if you were simply free-climbing or rappelling. This can be extremely helpful if you find yourself in a situation where you need to take your time or if the terrain is particularly challenging.

In addition, descenders can also be used to create a belay system, which can be used to protect other climbers in your party. This can be an extremely useful safety measure, especially if you are climbing in an area where there is potential for rockfall or other hazards.

Finally, descenders can also be used as emergency brakes in the event of a fall. This can help to prevent serious injuries, particularly if you are climbing in a dangerous or remote area.

How to use a descender safely

Descenders are devices that are used to control the rate at which a person descends. They are an essential part of rappelling and rock climbing. When used properly, descenders are safe and effective devices. However, it is important to use them correctly in order to avoid injury.

When using a descender, it is important to keep a few safety tips in mind:

  • Always use a proper belay device when rappelling or rock climbing. Do not attempt to rappel or climb without one.
  • Make sure that your harness is properly fitted and that all straps are securely fastened before beginning your descent.
  • Inspect your gear before each use. Look for any signs of wear or damage. Do not use damaged gear.
  • Be sure to double-check all knots and connections before starting your descent.
  • Do not attempt to descend faster than your ability or comfort level allows. If you need to stop, do so safely by using your brake hand to control your speed.
  • Never let go of the ropes while rappelling or climbing.
  • If you need to rest, do so by sitting in your harness with both hands on the ropes above you.

How to choose the right descender

Choosing the right descender for your application is critical to ensure the safety of yourself and your crew.

The first step in choosing the right descender is to identify the type of application you will be using it for. Will you be using it for rappelling? For belaying? For rescuing? Each type of application has different needs and therefore requires a different type or model of descender.

The second step is to identify the maximum load that the device will need to support. This typically corresponds to the maximum weight of the user (or users) plus any additional gear that will be attached to the device. Most devices have a maximum load limit that is clearly stated in their specifications.

The third step is to identify any other special needs or requirements that you may have, such as a device that can be used with either one or two ropes, or a device that can be locked off in case of an emergency. Again, these requirements will vary depending on the type of application you are using the device for.

Once you have considered these three factors, you can begin narrowing down your choices by comparing different models and manufacturers. It is important to select a device that is suitable for both your application and your level of experience.

In Closing

Descenders are one of the most versatile and frequently used pieces of rock climbing gear. They can be used as an emergency rappel device, for belaying a second from above, or for descending from multi-pitch climbs. However, you must only use a descender that is able to carry more than your body weight and any extra gear you will be taking with you.

NEXT UP: Top 10 Rope Descender Manufacturers

Did you find this useful? If yes please share!
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