Petzl makes some of the best retail catalogues in the world. That was what first caught my attention about the France-based company over a decade ago – its detailed, informative and visually appealing annual magazine that not only hawked the latest gear, but also taught people techniques for rock climbing and caving. (In some cases it was more instructional than my copy of How to Rock Climb!) The 41-year-old business, which was started by caver Fernand Petzl, continues to print their excellent catalogues while pushing the envelope with outdoor gear design. For this assignment, I was given the latest Petzl Arial 9.5 rope and Petzl Aquila harness to review.
Clean design of the construction offers good weight distribution and minimizes pressure points.
Price: $229.95 - $289.95US
Colours: Orange & gold
Sizes: 60m; 70m; 80m
Weight/m: 58 g
Impact force: 8,8 kN
The Duratec Dry treatment makes the rope resistant to water and abrasion plus handling, grip and other characteristics are retained longer in cold, wet conditions. The core and the sheath are bonded together at the rope ends by an ultrasonic process called UltraSonic Finish, which improves durability and avoids frayed ends. The company’s EverFlex thermal treatment stabilizes the core strands, offering good grip and consistent handling over time. As you can see below the double-lined middle mark is easy to spot.
- Duratec Dry treatment
- UltraSonic Finish
- ClimbReady coil
- Middle Mar
- EverFlex treatment
- 3-year guarantee
In 2014 Petzl joined forces with German rope manufacturer Edelrid to create dynamic climbing ropes in accordance to specifications put forward by Petzl. (Before then the French company primarily made static ropes.) Today Petzl offers 15 types of ropes for caving and climbing ranging in width size from 7.7mm half ropes to 10.3mm single ropes. The Arial 9.5 falls in the mid-range of their offerings and is designed for higher-end climbing activities. In other words, if you’re a top-roping newbie, this rope is not for you – consider the wider Mambo or Contact models instead.)
In the course of my rock climbing career I’ve owned three different Petzl climbing ropes because, well, the price was always right. Plus the thinner sizing suited my style of climbing, I enjoyed their handling, their weight and I liked the double-lined mid-point markers they sported. So I was happy to see that the Arial 9.5 met all my expectations. It’s Duratec Dry treatment means you don’t have to stress the rain and if you’re crazy enough to enjoy ice climbing then the Arial will do double-duty. Its weight makes it easy to hump up to the furthest crag and its sizing is excellent to handle and it plays well in any belay device. (Although if you’re a GriGri fan, make sure you’re using a GriGri 2 as the rope is too thin for the original.)
I also really like the double-lined middle mark on the rope as it can be easy to miss a single mark. That said, the one thing I’ve always noticed about Petzl ropes is how quickly they get dirty. And the Arial 9.5 is no exception. Perhaps it’s the Duratec treatment or the Ultrasonic finish but Petzl ropes become dirty faster than any other brand I’ve ever owned. I had the Arial 9.5 on three day outings in relatively benign environments (ie: no mud, dirt or sand at the base of the routes) and I’ve already noticed it taking on a greyish hue. This doesn’t impact the performance of the rope but it definitely makes it harder to spot the middle mark. Plus it leaves your hands dirty after a session – which most dirtbag climbers don’t really care about anyway. Besides, a bit of dirt is a small point when you consider the Arial’s good performance and price
Sizes: XS - XL
- Compact, lightweight waistbelt in thin foam
- No crossing seams on the waistbelt means no compression points or friction zones
- Flexible leg loop attachment bridges
- Adjustable leg loops
- DoubleBack HD buckles in forged aluminum
- Retainers for webbing
- Reinforced tie-in points in high-tenacity polyethylene for improved resistance to wear from rope friction
- Four equipment loops: two high-capacity rigid ones in front for quick and easy access to equipment and two flexible ones in the rear to avoid creating pressure points with a backpack
- Two integrated CARITOOL tool holder slots
- Rear loop for haul rope
- Two rear elastics on detachable buckles to avoid crossing leg loops when donning harness
- Certifications: CE EN 12277 type C, UIAA
No compression points or friction zones on the waist belt because there are no crossing seams and fabric fused with the foam for better weight-bearing over the entire harness.
Four equipment loops: two high-capacity rigid ones in front for quick and easy access to equipment and two flexible ones in the rear to avoid creating pressure points with a backpack.
Two rear elastics on detachable buckles to avoid crossing leg loops when donning harness and a rear loop for haul rope.
Flexible leg loop attachment bridges for more comfortable walking and climbing with adjustable leg loops which remain adjusted without impeding movement.
DoubleBack HD buckles in forged aluminum have a slim, rounded design that offers good grip and fluid glide of the webbing for easy and quick adjustment and tightening of the waist belt and leg loops. The reinforced tie-in point is made with high-tenacity polyethylene for improved resistance to wear from rope friction.
Thermo-formed foam allows incorporation of strength elements into the layer of foam and thus avoids having pressure points on the yokes.
Petzl offers more harnesses than any other company on earth (currently they sell 20 different ones for climbing, caving and at-height work environments) and I’ve owned a few different ones over my quarter-century climbing career. In the past month I’ve used the Aquila at the gym, the sport crag and on a multi-pitch trad route and while it performed fine in each instance, it wasn’t perfectly comfortable. (I must be getting old because I prefer more cushioning.)
Frankly, I’m a one harness kind of climber. Whether I’m projecting hard sport routes, meandering up a long alpine trad route or dangling from a cliff cleaning new lines, I only want one harness in my quiver. The Petzl Aquila is not that harness. But given its miniscule weight, it’s an excellent harness for alpine climbing, backcountry skiing through steep or glacier terrain, or hard projecting when shedding ounces means the difference between sending and failing.
The Aquila has everything I like in a harness, except lots of padding. The buckles are easy-to-use, there are adjustable leg loops (for those colder moments when you’re sporting three layers) and just enough gear loops without being excessive. Plus I’ve always liked rear elastics that can be removed for pit stops. And, of course, the weight is infinitesimal.
If you’re not as wussy about padding as I am, I encourage you to try on the Aquila and see how it works for you.
Petzl Arial 9.5 Rope
Petzl Arial 9.5 Rope
See above for individual product specification.
Petzl Arial 9.5 Rope: 8.5/10
Quality / Price 2/2
Petzl Aquila Harness: 8/10
Quality / Price 1.5/2
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