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Big Wall and Aid Gear

Types of Big Wall and Aid Gear

photo of a ascender


Top Picks

How we choose: The best big wall and aid gear highlighted here were selected based on 16 reviews of 13 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

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If you've used a big wall / aid gear that you think should be listed here, please share your experience.

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Top Ascender

Petzl Ascension

user rating: 5 of 5 (3 reviews)

The Petzl Ascension is the only foot ascender on the market worth looking at. Although the price is a bit higher, I have known cavers who regretted trying cheaper alternatives. If you are new to rope work, Petzl is the brand to buy...period!

Reasons to Buy

  • Best ascender on the market
  • Holds on wet, gritty rope
  • Can be used with gloves on

Reasons to Avoid

  • Being right- and left-hand specific is both a pro and a con
  • Make sure to buy the ascender made for your dominate hand

So, I have said the same thing on my Petzl Croll review, but in a "Frog" ascending system, the Croll and Ascension are both critical components. You can't safely have one without the other. The Petzl Ascention is the only foot ascender I've ever used for caving. It works right every time. I can set and remove it while wearing gloves. It holds on wet, gritty rope. I literally have trusted my life to it scores of times. Petzl tends to be a bit pricier than other other brands, but I have caved with people frustrated with the performance of their cheaper buys.

Read more: Petzl Ascension reviews (3)

Top Pulley

Petzl Fixe

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

Going up (elevator background music)...(ding sound)...3rd floor featuring climbing gear and pulleys to get your spirits up. Ever since I took Physics in college I was fascinated with pulleys. Our professor showed us how with a combination of pulleys, a person could lift their own body weight up a tree with little effort. So it should be no surprise to my readers that I carry this PETZL pulley with me in my sack on every outdoor adventure I go on. It is lightweight in comparison to the amount of weight that it can bear. It is very well constructed and has ample space to pass through climbing ropes to jury rig this for whatever contraption or endeavor that you're doing. Whether you are a rock or mountain climber or using this for rescue operations or for hauling your personal gear to greater heights, the PETZL FIXE P05 is going to be there to assist you.

Reasons to Buy

  • Good weight-to-load-weight ratio
  • Multiple applications
  • Well built
  • Large pass thru holes for ropes
  • Multiple pulleys can be used to decrease work needed to lift

Reasons to Avoid

  • Costly $$$
  • Adds weight to your pack

  The PETZL FIXE P05 as packaged                                                PETZL FIXE P05 The PETZL FIXE P05 Pulley is a welcomed addition to my camping gear.  I have been using pulleys since I was 16 years old when I use to work for my grandfather's moving company. We used pulleys to raise furniture and boxes up to windows in apartment buildings. Rigging several pulleys allowed us to lift heavy objects up buildings, but at a fraction of their weight. It wasn't until senior year of high school that I took advanced placement/AP college level physics where I learned all about how pulleys function in mathematics.

Read more: Petzl Fixe review (1)


Petzl Pantin

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

Does what it is supposed to do quite well.

Reasons to Buy

  • Lightweight
  • Nice additon to a frog system

Reasons to Avoid

  • Can "kick off" the rope
  • Takes quite a bit of practice

I have been using the Patin for years as a supplement to my Frog Ascension. Normally, when you start out ascending a rope, you have to pinch the rope between your feet to get started. This is because, until you get a good 10' off the ground, there is not enough weight on the rope to automatically pull it through the ascenders. Pinching the rope with construction boots on can be a task, and a climber can expend a lot of energy in the initial ascent. The Pantin eliminates the need to pinch the rope.

Read more: Petzl Pantin review (1)


Petzl Croll

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

As a component in rope ascending, the Petzl Croll continues to be the best on the market. It is easy to use, even while wearing gloves. It holds true on wet, gritty rope. I have trusted my life to this item numerous times and will continue to do so.

Reasons to Buy

  • Lightweight
  • Holds on wet rope

Reasons to Avoid

  • None to report on this item

Petzl's ascenders are the only ones I've ever used for caving. They work right every time. I can set and remove them while wearing gloves. I literally have trusted my life with them scores of times. Petzl tends to be a bit pricier than other brands, but I'll stick with the leader when it comes to my safety. The Croll is designated as a "chest ascender." This may cause some confusion, as it actually attaches to your harness at your waist. However, it is held in place by either a chest harness or a piece of webbing running up and over the shoulders.

Read more: Petzl Croll review (1)


Petzl Tibloc

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

I first saw this device in a climbing mag. As a rescue tech, I/we are always looking to try out new ideas, especially when they are this inexpensive and LIGHT! The Tibloc can be used as an emergency ascender on single rope up to 11mm (I've used it on 12mm with no probs.) and also as a makeshift locking pulley for hauling systems like the Z-rig. Works best with an oval or HMS carabiner with a round body. Plus side: Super simple, can't be removed from rope unless the attaching biner is removed also, inexpensive, small enough to carry unnoticed on any rack.

Read more: Petzl Tibloc review (1)


Singing Rock Puller Chest Ascender Harness

user rating: 4 of 5 (1 review)

An important part of any ascension system, the Singing Rock Puller Chest Harness is well-made and dependable. I have owned several of these units, retiring them as age requires. They are still available in climbing stores and well worth the few bucks.

Reasons to Buy

  • Ready-made
  • Easy to adjust

Reasons to Avoid

  • More expensive than a make-it-yourself chest harness

Singing Rock is a great company, and this is a great item to use with a Frog Ascension System. The harness keeps your chest ascender (I prefer Petzl's Croll) in place on a climb. Without it, a climber would risk the ascender disconnecting from the rope. Many cavers make their own chest harness out of webbing. I like using a pre-made harness, because it's easily adjustable, and I can loan it out to someone who forgot to bring one. In this photo you can see the gold chest harness crossing my shoulder and back.

Read more: Singing Rock Puller Chest Ascender Harness review (1)

More Reviews of Big Wall and Aid Gear

Trailspace reviewers have shared 16 reviews of 13 different big wall and aid gear.

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