SCARAB Rappel Device Review
Bruce Stansbury, MAJ (ret.)
The SCARAB Rappel Device is a piece of rappel gear that will absolutely change the way you perform rope operations. This device represents five years of research and testing. The SCARAB copies ideas introduced decades before with the Bonaiti Robot and then adds improvements. It was born out of the need for a small, simple device that could easily control heavy rescue loads, excel at pick offs, twin rope systems and other general rescue techniques. The SCARAB is suitable as a rappelling device as well as a lowering device. It works equally well on single and double ropes. The workmanship on the SCARAB is unparalleled, making it an exceptionally strong device.
The SCARAB is available in stainless steel and titanium. The titanium model is the lightest of the two at 6.60 ounces versus 13.8 ounces for the stainless. The rope capacity extends from 1/4” (6 mm) up to 7/16" (11 mm). The stainless steel SCARAB can be used with 3/8" (9mm) to 1/2" (13mm) ropes. My main complaint with the stainless steel version of the SCARAB is the weight. The difference of weight between the two may not seem extreme but it is noticeable and makes the titanium version the preferable choice.
The SCARAB can be used for belaying and lowering as well as for pick-offs and guiding line systems. The SCARAB is user-friendly, efficient and simple to tie off. It can be used for both personal and rescue loads because it is rated at 40kN. A “pick-off” is an emergency field technique with time constraints and may preclude the setup of elaborate rescue systems. For this reason, there are few descent devices that may be used in emergencies and are not allowable under any other circumstance.
I would caution that there are a few sharp edges on the brake bar where the slots are cut. The rope can run over these and possibly lead to sheath damage, so I recommend rounding these edges before use.
Rappelling with the SCARAB
By wrapping more or fewer "horns," one can control the rate of descent and easily change the amount of friction during the descent. It is also quick and easy to use for stopping and tying off.
A definite plus with the SCARAB is the security I feel when untying to continue the descent. With the mini brake rack, I have experienced a bit of a drop while removing the final half-hitch of my tie-off and quickly returning my hand and the rope to rappelling position. With the SCARAB, I did not drop at all. I was in perfect rappel position as soon as the last hitch of the tie-off was removed. The SCARAB is equally as effective for rappelling with a two-person load when doing a pick-off.
When rappelling, it does not give enough friction to be used as a straight brake bar, but the horns allow looping the rope over the top to get enough friction. If you need more friction, you can loop the rope under the lower horns and then back around to the other top horn. Do NOT loop the rope under one of the lower horns before passing it over the top, since this hinders bar movement (The instructions warns that this can also damage the SCARAB). The horns also make it easy to lock off.
Locking Off the SCARAB
Tying off or locking the SCARAB is similar to tying off a boat to a dock cleat.
Wrap the rope around all four horns, form a loop by twisting the rope, and hook that loop over the second-to-last horn you wrapped (towards the load). Form another loop and hook that on the last horn (towards the anchor), pulling snugly.
For added security and peace-of-mind, especially if you'll be working over the edge hands-free for an extended period, you can add a half-hitch and overhand over the SCARAB once you have completed the above.
SCARAB as a Lowering Device
SCARAB is superior in it’s simplicity of use, ease of locking off and also the ease of taking up tension on the line when compared to the brake rack.
Like on rappel, it is easier to increase or decrease tension with the SCARAB when lowering, by wrapping more or fewer horns. This can be done with one hand and without stopping the system.
Features and Benefits:
Incredibly strong (frame and crossbar rated at greater than 40kN)
Rope does not twist
Friction can be adjusted quickly by wrapping more or fewer horns
600 pounds can be lowered with just two fingers
Very easy to lock off
It can be used right- or left-handed
Single and double rope capable
The rope can be attached without unclipping the device from the anchor.