The primary purpose of a belay plate is to stop a falling climber… and most of them do it quite well. The Toucan, like any other, does beautifully - as long as the belayer knows what he or she is doing!
When feeding the rope to a lead climber, the non-load bearing “keeper arm” acts very much like the spring mechanism on traditional “spring” belay plates. By lifting the plate slightly off the belay caribiner, the stop-and-go jerking that is common with some devices is much easier to control, thus creating a smoother belay when climbing or rappelling.
Like others of its kind, the Toucan can belay two following climbers simultaneously, allowing the belayer to pull slack on one climber while the other climber weights the rope. The “keeper arm” gives the Toucan an advantage when in “guide mode.” All you need is a simple sling, girth hitched to the “keeper arm,” and a slight tug on the device allows for a smooth release of the top-belay. This built-in feature is not available on any other belay plates.
The Toucan handles rope diameters from 7.5mm to 11mm, is lightweight, and has V-slotted edges for increased belay bite. Additionally, you’ll be hard-pressed to pay more than $30US for it.
The Toucan is still fairly un-reviewed and less known. Perhaps Simond felt its’ versatility would sell itself. If not, it may not be around long enough to be acknowledged for its superiority among competitors.
Simond offers limited basic information on the varied uses of the device. Their online diagrams are helpful, but you are likely to get better information from climbers who have had a chance to use it.
Perhaps the only real disappointment: The Toucan is only available in blue!
James is a writer for the Tucson Climbing Gear Examiner online. If you would like to read a more detailed reviews, or additional gear reviews by James you can visit him at http://www.examiner.com/x-37663-Tucson-Climbing-Gear-Examiner
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