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Ropeman-Kong Duck Comparison

Ropeman-Kong Duck Comparison

Richard Tregoweth - Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Treetools featured the Kong Duck late in December 2009 describing the device as an emergency belay device. Technically speaking the Kong Duck is a 'rope clamp' certified to EN 567:97 and UIAA 126 standards when used on textile ropes  and conforms to standards EN 564:06 (accessory ropes) or EN 892:04 (dynamic ropes) or EN 1891:98 (semi-static ropes) with a diameter between 8 and 13 mm, will lock under load in one direction while being free to slide in the opposite direction (direction of use) - but it would suffice as a belay device in an emergency.

What's the point of all this technical data you ask? Well, if you have used a Wild Country Ropeman in the past you could well be interested! The Ropeman gained popularity when the Treemagineers used it in a floating prussic or 'O' rig system described in detail in the Hitch Climbers Guide to the Canopy. Most people, familiar with the Ropeman make an immediate comparison with the Kong Duck. They are similar in size and application but that's where the comparisons end.

The Ropeman fell from grace with tree climbers following a number of tests conducted by concerned safety authorities, the HSE in England in particular. Ideally a 'rope clamp', like a prussic knot, should slide on the rope when somewhere between 2.5 kN and 6 kN of static force is applied - the Ropeman didn't slip at all and severed the rope sheath completely at 4 kN. Not an encouraging test result for Wild Country!

It's thought the Ropeman's sheath severing ability is due to the aggressive horizontal tooth pattern on the cam and the way the cam utilizes the relatively thin bar of the carabiner as a base for the cam when its under load. To be fair, Wild Country responded to these concerns and developed the Ropeman II which is a significant improvement over the Ropeman I on thinner diameter ropes - 8.5-11mm.

Benefiting from Wild Country's pain, Kong has taken all these concerns on board when designing the Duck. The Kong Duck features an aluminum, large diameter  'barrel' to clamp the rope and the tooth pattern on the cam is designed to ensure there is no sheath damage. Like the Ropeman the Duck can be installed mid-line.

However, you should still note Kong's warning: DANGER 'Duck' is neither a positioning device nor a fall-arrester.

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