The Hitch Hiker is bit of a hard one to get your head around (at first). We all possibly felt that way about the Rope Wrench (I honestly don't recall - it seems so long ago!).
The Hitch Hiker is a little foreign in that it combines the friction hitch and a mechanical device all in one. It also serves as your primary life support which is completely different concept to the Rope Wrench.
The double overhand stopper knots connecting the friction hitch to the device look a bit awkward but perhaps they are designed to sit flat against the edge of the retainer bar?
The friction hitch itself is also a matter for debate - the shorter the better it seems at this early stage.
Two important points have emerged (although these would be covered off in instructions when the commercial version is released).
One, you need to make sure the Hitch Hiker is oriented correctly with the heat sink facing your body. This allows for smooth tending of your line by gently lifting the bar of the carabiner when you pull up the tail - the carabiner bar applies a degree of friction on descent and can pinch hard on the rope when heavier weights are applied.
Oriented incorrectly and the Hitch Hiker becomes difficult to tend due to the jamming of the carabiner bar on the line, slowing its release.
Two, when reassembling the unit after tying your friction hitch make sure the bar with the stopper knots is on the correct side of the climbing line - this bar also applies friction on descent by sliding up against the rope when weight is applied.
When placed on the wrong side of the climbing line the Hitch Hiker does not function correctly and you know immediately something is wrong, most noticeably in ascent.
The correct positioning of the carabiner bar against the climbing line is equally important in this respect.
If you are reading this blog post please be advised the Hitch Hiker is not rated or certified for ascent or work positioning on a single line. At this point the Hitch Hiker is not commercially available to the general public.
The New Zealand tree climbers trialling this equipment are highly skilled aerial arborists and are in no way endorsing the Hitch Hiker for general use until all the tests and certification are complete.Hitch Hiker first-timer Johno Smith trying to get his around the new device at Treetools (with support and advice from another Single Line Work Positioning proponent Guy Clark).