In March I received a Petzl Dual Connect Adjust through work. It's been sitting in my closet ever since, and this past weekend, I finally got the chance to try it out.
Petzl released a bunch of new products in Fall '15, included was two new adjustable lanyards, the Connect Adjust and the Dual Connect Adjust. I initially passed them off as specialty products, and assumed that I'd never end up with one. Luckily for me, I ended up with a free Dual Adjust, and so I figured it was a great opportunity to review a product that people aren't likely to try on a whim. Unfortunately, I don't think there is a ton else to be said about this thing that isn't all that hard to deduce, but if your thinking about getting one of these, perhaps this will help.
Petzl markets the Dual Connect Adjust (which I’ll call the DCA for the sake of brevity) as an adjustable positioning lanyard, and suggests it may be practical for rappelling, mountaineering and canyoneering. Right… My initial thoughts on this device is that it's clunky, bulky and too specialized. After a bit of testing, my opinion hasn’t changed all that much, however I do think that this product serves a niche of users that may find it useful.
The DCA is heavy, 160 grams. Compare that to the typical weight of a double length sling (around 40g) and you can easily rule this product out for people trying to travel light. Combine that with how much space this thing takes up and you call all but eliminate the possibility of ever taking this on your next light and fast alpine ascent.
To talk about why it might be useful, lets talk about what it can actually do for you. The DCA is basically the ultimate extended rappel, which in theory is pretty awesome. Extending a rappel has a number of advantages, and is something there is really no reason not to do. I always try to engrain the importance of extending a rappel to all of my students. The DCA combines the rappel extension with a personal tether, making it a do-it all system. Essentially, this thing is really a built up adjustable tether with a built in rappel extension. Petzl also talks about using it to travel on fixed ropes, but in my opinion, this device really doesn’t offer any advantages that strike me as obvious for that purpose.
So is the DCA the latest and greatest tool to improve the efficiency of your climbing? The short answer is no. For normal application, the DCA is simply too bulky and inconvenient to speed up your daily climbing routine. Even on routes with numerous rappels, I simply do not see people choosing to carry this device for added convince. There is one obvious reason for this, and that is its size. As you will notice in the pictures, the DCA does not rack up well, and if you were to carry it with you while you weren’t using it, it would almost always need to be in the pack. When you are using it, it still takes up a lot of space, so if you have much of anything else your harness, its going to get really cluttered really quickly. However, there are a number of applications in which I would chose to bring this device with me because of its added convenience.
During my “DCA Try-outs” this weekend I followed a two pitch sport climb with the device racked on my harness. I was actually pleasantly surprised to have the device with me. It’s quick and easy to attach to the anchor using the adjustable end. However, the obvious alternative to this is simply using a clove hitch, so there’s no major gain here, but I would say the DCA is easier to adjust than a clove. When it came time to rappel the route, the DCA really was significantly more enjoyable to use than a standard double length sling rappel extension setup. The whole system is much less cluttered, operates smoothly and is extremely effective. For this reason, I can see the device being useful.
When sport cragging, I’ll probably bring this thing along because it will be great for cleaning and rappelling routes that have been set up to climb by a number of people, particularly because of the adjustable tether. It will probably always come with me on days when I'm taking groups of students out to climb for the first time. The added convince when setting up anchors all day is obvious. I can also imagine giving this to a partner/client that is new to climbing while they follow you on a multi-pitch route. The biggest use however, is likely for those who spend a lot of time off the ground. This device would be phenomenal for photography, bolting and rigging, and would recommend this device to anyone who spends a lot of time swinging from ropes for these reasons.
Worth noting in this review is also the Dual Adjust, the sister product to the DCA. The lack of two components on that device would likely make it more practical for most uses. In particular, the Dual Adjust looks like it would probably make a great replacement for the personal anchor system (PAS) that is commonly mocked for its bulk. I'd be intrigued to give that product a shot as well.
All in all, the Dual Connect Adjust is a useful product, however, its role is limited due to its size and bulk. For regular climbing practice, I have a hard time seeing this device catch on, however, in certain situations it has a number of advantages that will have me packing this device for years down the road.
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