Equipment, Essentials


Abseiling a dry canyon by the use of a descender

Descenders are among the top 5 most important and essential tools in canyoning. A canyoner cannot practice this amazing sport without them. Beginners and people descending in commercial canyoning trips use only one canyoning descender provided. However, this is not the case for autonomous canyoners or instructors, guides and rescuers.

One is None!

During canyoning one must always carry at least 2 – sometimes 3 – canyoning descenders. They offer ability to do rope rigging and rappelling with safety. Loosing a canyoning descender in the canyon can become a great nuisance. Dropping one on the ground out of carelessness means the end of its proper function.

Further below you can read some information about the canyoning descenders in the market. Weather you have just fallen in love with canyoning or are a gadget maniac, an old-time-classic autonomous with mindset, an extreme canyoner, a guide or a rescuer you will be able to find the most suitable descender among this list. Try them all and find your match grip.

Disclaimer: This article is certainly not a statement of comparison.  It is simply a presentation of the descenders existing in the market.  Visit the websites of all manufacturers for more information. Before using a descender please pay attention to presented permitted uses, read carefully the manual, understand it and then practice with safety.

Figure 8 classic and new canyoning descender

It has a history of more than 50 years and has been manufactured in several forms over the time. It is a simple, yet sophisticated device. Well known among extreme sports hardware. The fundamental design remains the same. You can find it today in various, happy colours. (,,,,

Classic Figure 8 canyoning descender

Petzl Pirana canyoning descender

It is an adjustable friction descender. Has three rope installation options, to select the degree of friction before initiating a descent. A friction spur allows easy braking during the descent. The connector facilitates rope installation. The device connects to the harness and limits the risk of dropping the device. A locking slot and an additional spur facilitate rapid creation of a tie-off. (

Petzl Pirana canyoning descender

Sqwurel (V1, V2, V3) canyoning descender

The Sqwurel is a rappel / belay device for canyoneering.  It has a tail on the brake side of the device allowing the user to adjust up and down. Offers multiple levels of friction while the device is loaded / weighted and in use.  The ability to change friction quickly and easily, makes a few situations in canyoneering simpler and or safer. (

Canyoning descender Sqwurel V1, V2, V3

Canyonwerks CRITR2 canyoning descender

An innovative rappel device from Todd and Desi at Climbing Sutra, now an Imlay Canyon Gear product. Lots of options allow careful adjustment of friction while on rappel. Symmetry allows flipping that extends the life of the device. Part of the new wave of rappel devices that allow changes in friction while rapping. Lots of options has made this a popular rappel device especially for heavy-ish (>170 lbs) canyoneers. (,

Canyonwerks CRITR@ canyoning descender

Sterling ATS canyoning descender

The ATS device is a versatile belay and rappel device for both rock climbing and canyoneering. This unique device accommodates the need for various friction settings on rappel and belay, as well as auto lock-off belay options. The ATS incorporates the best parts of a tube or plate device and a figure 8 with hyper-horns into one compact durable frame. Rigorous testing shows the Steel ATS to be 5x more abrasion resistant than the standard aluminium version. (

Canyoning descender ATS by Sterling

Rock Exotica Totem canyoning descender

The Totem is the most versatile rigging and rappelling tool available. It can function as a rigging plate, an easy-to-lick-off figure 8, stich plate, auto-blocking plaquette device and many other configurations. Deceptively simple looking, the Totem is remarkably versatile. Rich Carlson designed Totem and Rock Exotica is responsible for the production. (,

Rich Carlson's Totem canyoning descender

SDF8 Double Figure 8 canyoning descender

The SDF8 is a versatile descender. It improves the performance of a normal figure 8 descender. It has a high value in canyoning. Those who already have a refined technique and know-how get the most out of this descender. The evolution of techniques and equipment during the last 15 years has be characterised by increasingly complex products in the design and use. The SDF8, however, has kept simplicity as base principle for its design and can be used with all types of carabiners, best with an HMS type with safety closure. (

The double figure 8 canyoning descender

Eroica Snail canyoning descender

A new brand in the collection of descenders is EROICA canyon gear with the SNAIL descender. It is an interesting mix between the OKA and ATK descender, which is a new product for professionals canyoning. Made in Iran by EROICA canyon gear. (

Canyoning descender Eroice Snail, made in Iran

Kong Hydrobot canyoning descender

Hydrobot is a special tool for modern canyoning. You can use it both, with one or two ropes. It allows easy braking variation under load. Compared to other models, Hydrobot helps prevent accidental loss, avoids rope twisting and avoids wear on the connector. The characteristic which makes Hydrobot unique is the possibility to use it as an auto-locking device in case of emergency, ascending on one or two ropes (in conjunction with a Prusik knot). The possibility of overturning the central bar (fixed by a screw) allows use by left-handers. (

Modern canyoning descender by Kong, Hydrobot

Phoenix LRT canyoning descender

The Totem — on steroids! The Phoenix LRT (little brother to the Phoenix CRT) has all the features and capabilities of the original Totem and then some. “Wings” are practical to add friction, redirect braking position and for easy lock-off. The three holes at one end provide functionality as a more traditional rigging plate. (,

Extended version of Totem - the new Phoenix LRT

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