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Petzl NEOX: Caution for Tree Climbers

Petzl NEOX: Caution for Tree Climbers

Richard Tregoweth - Friday, June 07, 2024

Introducing innovative new climbing products, such as the Petzl NEOX, opens up further possibilities for climbers. When Petzl introduced this new device, many tree climbers were eager to explore its potential application in tree work, particularly as a mechanical lanyard adjuster.

The Petzl Neox shares some similarities with the Petzl GriGri, a well-known device in the climbing community. Initially, Treetools' response to using the Petzl Neox as a lanyard adjuster was a cautious "no-go." However, we believe in thorough investigation and due diligence before forming a final opinion. Check out our previous blog post here for those interested in our detailed take on the Petzl GriGri as a lanyard adjuster. And here is an excellent video describing the physics of the GriGri in action.

Our further investigation into the Petzl NEOX revealed some crucial insights that tree climbers should know. The primary conclusion was clear: the Petzl NEOX should not be used as a mechanical lanyard adjuster in tree climbing. You can download the Petzl NEOX TECH NOTICE here for more detailed information.

Several factors led to this conclusion:

  1. Field of Application: The Petzl Neox is a belay device designed primarily for rock climbing rather than the unique demands of tree work.
  2. Rope Compatibility: The Petzl NEOX has specific rope types and diameter requirements (8.5 to 11 mm diameter EN 892 dynamic single ropes and EN 1891 low stretch kernmantle ropes). Ensuring the right match between the device and the rope is critical for safety and functionality. Low-stretch tree climbing ropes commonly used as tree climbing work positioning lanyards are incompatible with this device.
  3. Gear Configuration: Using the Petzl NEOX in a tree climbing setup introduces unnecessary risks. It is not intended for hands-free use or without maintaining tension on the brake side of the rope, which is often necessary in lanyard configurations used by arborists.
  4. Adjustment: The Petzl precaution is always to hold the brake side of the rope when operating the Neox handle. Failure to hold the brake side of the rope while operating the handle can result in losing control during lowering. Using both hands to safely adjust the work positioning lanyard is unrealistic for tree climbers.

The most important lesson for tree climbers is to always respect and follow the intended use of climbing devices. While innovation can be exciting, safety should always be the top priority. For those needing mechanical work positioning lanyard adjusters, it is essential to choose gear that has been explicitly designed and thoroughly tested for that specific purpose.

It's a quirky video, by Petzl standards, but well worth a watch, particularly the details from the Petzl lab at 1:12 minutes into the video.

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