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Reviews by Valarc (8)

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Toucan Belay Device (Manufacturer link) Average Rating = 4.14/5 Average Rating : 4.14/5

In: Gear: Essential Equipment: Belay Devices & Descenders

Binds up a fair bit 3 out of 5 stars

Review by: Valarc, 2007-07-10


I also picked up a few toucans from REI on clearance. However, I can't agree with the other posters here. I found the toucan to be a real PITA when feeding or taking in slack. The extra friction grooves are not only deep, but wide, so they tend to grab onto the rope, making it stick. I love the concept of the design, with the rotating handle, but the friction grooves ruin an otherwise great idea. I was able to get a smooth feed by modifying my belay technique, but with so many other great autoblockers on the market, I'm not going to modify my technique to use one device. If your technique is compatible with it, I could see the toucan being a great device, but it didn't work well for me.


Cubik (Manufacturer link) Average Rating = 4.67/5 Average Rating : 4.67/5

In: Gear: Essential Equipment: Belay Devices & Descenders

Lots of friction but super smooth 5 out of 5 stars

Review by: Valarc, 2007-07-10


The rope openings on the cubik are, in a word, huge. That means this thing is super easy to feed. Even on old fuzzed 10.8mm gym ropes, it handles like a dream. However, because it has deep V shaped friction grooves, there is no loss of holding power. The cubik might not lock off quite as securely as a trango jaws, but it's far more secure than an ATC. You'll have no problem belaying people twice your weight if you're using a cubik.

The only disadvantage for the cubik is availability. It's hard to find in the US, so if you want to get one in the states you'll probably have to order online. I got mine through barrabes.com - it was expensive when you factor in the value of the dollar and shipping, but well worth it for such an awesome device.


GTC Average Rating = 4.25/5 Average Rating : 4.25/5

In: Gear: Essential Equipment: Belay Devices & Descenders

Best auto-blocker I've used yet 5 out of 5 stars

Review by: Valarc, 2007-07-10


I've been trying out a lot of different auto-blockers, and having trouble finding one that has rope handling characteristics that appeal to me. I found the reverso to be lacking in friction, and the ATC guide to have far too much friction, to the point that it binds up on thick ropes. The simond toucan had similar problems, with the rope getting wedged and making it difficult to deal with slack.

The cassin GTC (known as the Piu in europe) is the solution to these problems. Rope handling feels similar to a standard ATC, and the lockoff is a bit more secure than an ATC. This is a really great all-around device. I haven't tried it on thin twin ropes, so have no idea how secure the lock-off would be in this situation.

The GTC/piu is difficult to find in the US, but if you order overseas from a place like barrabes.com, the shipping isn't terribly expensive. Still, paying the conversion from euros to dollars plus shipping turns this into a quite expensive belay device. In my opinion, it's well worth it. This is as close to a do-everything belay device that I've found. I wish cassin had more of a US presence, because this device deserves to be on the shelf at every climbing store in the country.


Helium Clean Wire Carabiner (Manufacturer link) Average Rating = 4.67/5 Average Rating : 4.67/5

In: Gear: Essential Equipment: Carabiners: Non-Locking Carabiners: Wire Biners

Genius design 5 out of 5 stars

Review by: Valarc, 2007-05-22


The no-snag wire gate is a dream come true - this is darn near the perfect biner. If the price were lower, I'd have even more of these.


Helium Wire 10cm Quickdraw Average Rating = 5.00/5 Average Rating : 5.00/5

In: Gear: Essential Equipment: Carabiners: Quickdraws

Awesome draws! 5 out of 5 stars

Review by: Valarc, 2007-05-22


The no-snag design of the helium wiregate is pure genius. These biners are amazingly light and strong, and the protected hood not only stops snagging but makes the gate less likely to open accidentally. The draws have the rope end anodized red, which is a nice touch on an already outstanding product.

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