DMM Catch Back-up device for Rope Access review
Yesterday we had a sneak preview of the DMM Catch back-up device. Our initial impression is that it’s well made and well designed (we’d expect nothing less from DMM who offer a range of quality climbing products) and should prove popular with those looking for a tow-able back-up device for rope access, attachable to a harness using a cowstail from their waist attachment point.
Whilst the body of the device (a tweaked version of the Buddy) has been around for a while, the ‘catch’ element has been long in the making, has gone through a complete metamorphosis and is now a sleek, clever and well thought-out design (much improved from the inverted hammer with red emergency button offered up as a concept in the early stages of the design process!).
For those who are unfamiliar with the Buddy, it is one of the various devices available on the market today which use rotational braking (the device locks on to the rope when the device is rotated when loaded). For the rope to run through, the device needs to be rotated in the opposite direction to the lanyard attachment point, and this is done by pulling gently on the catch.
The principal of the catch itself is that in the event of a mainline failure, the user will squeeze the catch which will become detached from the cam of the device allowing the device to rotate and lock onto the rope (although the same result – locking of the device on the rope – can also be achieved by simple letting go of the catch so the device rotates, research has shown that there can be a tendency for people to grip a towcord even harder when they suddenly drop. When using the catch correctly this gribbing action will cause the catch to release and the cam will then lock onto the rope). The catch remains connected to the body of the device by a small wire so there is no chance of dropping the catch part.
When ascending the device can be moved up the rope in the same manner as has been used by rope access technicians when historically using the Petzl Shunt as a back-up I.e. by grabbing the lanyard at the device end and flicking it upwards (sometimes requiring you to hold the tail slack end of the rope).
DMM have gone to great lengths to test the device on an extensive range of ropes and brands, and having found the test results varied substantially from brand to brand, have decided to only rate it for use with 11mm ropes (the most and only disappointing thing about the DMM Catch in our opinion).
On a positive note however, although the device is marked with a maximum load of 100kg, it has been rated for, and can be used in exceptional circumstances, for rescue.
The DMM Buddy Catch is due for release onto the market in July 2014. Pre-orders can be made through Abaris International by simply calling customer services on 01484 768277.