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The Zephyr: 10.3mm of Wholesome Petzl Rope


Submitted by j_ung on 2007-01-29 | Last Modified on 2007-02-05

Rating: 12345   Go Login to rate this article.   Votes: 8 | Comments: 15 | Views: 12916

by J. Young


  • Lengths: 50, 60 & 70 m
  • Diameter: 10.3 mm
  • Type: single rope
  • Weight: 67 g/m
  • UIAA falls: 10
  • Impact force: 7.28 kN
  • Elongation: dynamic: 33.7 % static: 6 %
  • % sheath by weight: 34 %

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The brand-spanking-new Petzl Zephyr. Note the sheath.
Dan Brayack

The brand-spanking-new Petzl Zephyr. Note
the sheath. Photo: Dan Brayack

If you’d told me five years ago that Petzl was making ropes, I’d have said it was about time.

It’s not like the concept is new. Petzl isn’t the first gear maker to realize the advantage of becoming a one-stop shop for retailers. Hell, Metolius did it with their successful Monster ropes. One of the reasons why Monster made it is the Metolius name… and who here purposely avoids Petzl gear? (You’re a moron.) Not to belabor the point, but a friend of mine almost wept for joy the other day when a large order of Spirit draws arrived in the mail.

Of course, when I tell you that Petzl is “making” ropes, I really mean that they’ve outsourced production to venerable French rope maker Cousin (pronounced koo-ZAN) who also weaves for other respected outfits like Millet (pronounced mee-YAY). It’s a veritable orgy of Euro players, but if you’re an American whose climbing predates the nineties, you may remember seeing a Cousin rope or two on the actual shelves of your actual gear shop.

Anywho, Petzl’s gens (gens is French for “people”) and Cousin’s gens sat down over espressos with lemon twists and talked about what each wanted from the partnership. Petzl brought to the table its understanding of how rope interacts with other gear, Cousin brought the pure rope skills, and voila, Petzl ropes were born. Cousin, in turn, outsources nothing, so, when you buy a Petzl rope you are, in effect, purchasing the proficiency of two undeniably expert companies. These are not ropes of unspecific origins. Say what you want about the French – they talk funny, they’re snooty, whatever – they do know ropes.

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Matt Wurst at the Meadow River with nothing between him and the last bolt but the Zephyr.
Dan Brayack

Matt Wurst at the Meadow River with nothing
between him and the last bolt but the Zephyr. Photo: Dan Brayack

I took into my possession a 10.3mm Zephyr. The first thing you’ll notice when you see a Petzl rope is how it’s coiled. Lo and behold, Petzl jumped at the opportunity to do something considerate, namely uncoiling their ropes for us. No more two-person disco unraveling maneuver! My Zephyr was ready to rock right out of the box.

The next thing you’ll notice is that the sheath is a nice, tight weave. This will be followed immediately by your realization that, hey, this rope seems a little stiff, and indeed, it is. This is by design. Petzl’s went into this aiming for a tight sheath and a slightly stiffer feel on the logic that both qualities help make a rope more durable and longer lasting. And Petzl’s durable sheath is all in the weave, not in the volume. With 34% of its weight coming from sheath, it doesn’t even approach Sterling’s Marathon series, nor Mammut’s Supersafe. I certainly have no complaints in the durability department and I, along with a few of my more air-prone friends, have been putting it through the ringer for sure. The first day I had it out, my partner and I took it for rides (I’m guessing) in excess of fifteen times, many of them hard falls on low gear, and many of those back-to-back. The Zephyr performed admirably and my crotch is happy to report that it seemed to lose dynamic resistance only as much and as quickly as any other cord I’ve used. We also jugged it with ascenders for good measure and, while it certainly showed some wear after that first brutal day, I was pleased with the limited amount relative to what we did to it. (You should note, however, that the jury is still partially out on this. It is winter, after all, and I haven’t logged summer-level mileage as of this review.)

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Porter Jarrard making the clip at the Meadow River.
Dan Brayack

Porter Jarrard making the clip at the Meadow
River. Photo: Dan Brayack

Who doesn’t like durability? I’m pretty sure we all do, however, if you value a soft hand, be forewarned. You won’t find it here. Those who prefer a stiffer cord often also cite their belief that such a quality actually makes handling easier. I disagree, but I wanted to toss it out there; do what you will with it. Thankfully, you’ll notice the rope’s firm hand most when tying in, not when clipping. It isn’t so rigid as to be like climbing with a live python tied to your harness, but if you build your multi-pitch anchors with rope, you’ll notice it then, too. Petzl labored hard to bring a rope to market that had what they believe to be the right combination of stiffness and suppleness and they believe they’ve achieved it. Let’s leave it at that.

Other rope specs are in the Gear Guide, so I won’t bore you with those, except to say that the Zephyr’s impact force is 7.28kN, which compares to other ropes thusly:

  • Blue Water 10.3 – 8.6kN
  • Sterling 10.4 – 8.6kN
  • Mammut 10.2 – 8.8kN
  • Monster 10.2 – 8.3kN

Not too shabby.

Go to this item in our Gear Database.

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15 Comments CommentAdd a Comment

 vegastradguy
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 2007-01-29
4 out of 5 stars Nice review, Jay...even nicer pictures! Care to loan me your photographer for my articles? ;)
 boz84
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 2007-01-29
Good review! We just got in a shipment of these at REI (Berkeley) and didn't even have the chance to look it over yet, but Im glad you did some of my work for me! ;)
I don't even have a MSRP on it, I hope they kept it under two bills.
 vegastradguy
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 2007-01-30
4 out of 5 stars retails at $180.
 Adk
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 2007-01-30
Thanks for the review and time you put into this. Been looking for Petzl to do this for some time and there is something about a 10.3 that just feels good in the hand and through the belay device. I'm happy to see this!
 j_ung
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 2007-01-30
Then I think you'll be happy, Adk. Though I, personally, prefer a softer rope, I certainly don't dread using this one. Its stiffness is not an issue as it passes through a belay device. In fact, it locks off quite nicely on everything from a Gri-gri to a Reverso. Definitely inspires confidence.
 overlord
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 2007-02-01
4 out of 5 stars nice review. im in a market for a new rope, but it will be a bit skinnier than this. definitely sub-10mm. probably another mamut infinity.
 j_ung
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 2007-02-01
Rasto, I agree. Given my druthers, I'd also opt for something in a slinky little 9.7 or .8. I wish I'd had the chance to try Petzl's thinner cord!
 vegastradguy
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 2007-02-01
4 out of 5 stars Bah, i forgot the Full Disclosure statement: Petzl gave this rope to rockclimbing.com free of charge and we supplied it to j_ung as compensation for his review. Petzl does not currently advertise on rockclimbing.com. 2/1/07
 dbrayack
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 2007-02-05
5 out of 5 stars I liked it...other than "feeling like a cable", it was good...though it didn't clip or feed like a cable.
 polythenetortilla
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 2007-02-27
Whoa! Porter looks hot in red!
 skinerd
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 2007-03-26
How does the sheath feel running through your hand?
 freudian
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 2007-05-29
I have a Mammut Galaxy 10mm rope. I love it, but it's time to replace it. I'm looking at this Petzl rope as a possible replacement. I only want 60m and the diameter should be sub 10.5mm with a semi-stiff dry finish. That seems to match this Petzl. It's not duodess, but is triosafe. So now it's down to, do I want trio-safe or duodess? I like the blue colour of the Petzl and i haven't seen the orange duodess pattern of the new Galaxy (mines not duodess and its blue).
 j_ung
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 2007-07-18
UPDATE: After logging some more serious mileage on this particular cord, I think I can safely say that it didn't hold up to regular use as well as I would have liked. The sheath fuzzed out pretty substantially within a month or so of bringing it back out for the spring, and on a 10.3mm cord, that means a pretty thick rope. Combine that with the aforementioned stiff hand, and I can't say I'm thrilled.

I think these ropes are probably damned fine, but I want to try a different thickness before rendering my final verdict on durability. Petzl suggested sending me a 9.8 to compare the two. They seem very interested in feedback, which is exactly what I expect from a class outfit.

It's worth mentioning that I find myself wondering if I somehow managed to expose it to some sort of chemical. When the new one arrives, I'll put it into action immediately and brutally, then post up a new review. It's going to have a hard life, that new rope. Jugging, toproping and many falls are in its near future.

Jay
 j_ung
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 2008-01-16
Sorry, no links allowed in article posts. You'll have to copy and past.

http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?post=1785716

http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?do=post_view_flat;post=1678065

Until Petzl sorts this out, best to steer clear of the Zephyr.
 cracklover
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 2008-01-16
J_ung, I'd suggest you add some of this to your review. Many people will not read all the comments, and the beauty of publishing on the web is that you *can* edit as more information comes in.

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