Send us a suggestion!

Gear Recommendations for Occasional Canyoneers?

Discussion in 'Tech Tips and Gear' started by Divisadero, May 28, 2021.

  1. Divisadero

    Divisadero

    Messages:
    6
    Likes:
    11
    Hi. I'm looking for gear recommendations for a couple canyoneering trips this summer/fall. (I've searched and read on most threads on rope selection.) Specifically, we're looking do some but not all of the following technical Utah canyons: Goblin's Lair, Angel Point, Stegosaurus, Na-Gah (if reopened by October), Egypt 1, Mystery, Pine Creek, Subway, Behunin, Spry, Birch Hollow, and Orderville. We're also planning a one or two routes in Yosemite this summer, one of which would require a 210' rope.

    About us: Me (180 lbs. or less), my wife (I've never asked, but less than 120 lbs.), my 14-year-old daughter (~95 lbs.), and my 11-year old son (~85 lbs.). We live above Lake Tahoe, where we are very active in standard mountain sports, including ski mountaineering and rock climbing. From climbing and ski-mountaineering, I'm relatively competent with general rope work and hauling. (FWIW, I know there are critical differences between climbing and canyoneering and am dong my best to educate myself.) The kids are tough little shits, whose ability to endure and enjoy adult-level sufferfests shouldn't be underestimated. The wife is a notch below them, but still strong enough. We dipped our collective toes in canyoneering last fall. Since then, I've taken a canyoneering course and done some more easy canyons. I see us as continuing canyoneering each year, mostly focusing on southern Utah. It's possible we might check out canyons near Vegas, Death Valley, or the Sierra in the future, but who knows. Given our location, we have limited access to great canyoneering, so it's not something we're likely to much more than semi-annually, particularly in the winter and spring, when the skiing is good. Last, I have money-draining children and money-draining hobbies, so money is a strong factor.

    Current gear: I've got trad climbing gear, including a newish 70m rope, a well-used but still functionable 60m rope, and a 30m glacier rope (8.4mm, dry-treated, dynamic). I have an ATS and I just bought 3 Piranas for the wife and kids in the REI sale for $30/each. We also have ATC devices, PASs, ascenders, a figure 8, etc. and safety gear such as two-way radios and a PLB. We have a couple dry bags.

    So . . . gear advice?

    (1) Rope: I think I'd like a dedicated canyoneering rope of 210'-220' long, rather than torturing my climbing ropes again. In that vein, I was thinking of picking up a Canyon Fire of that length (~$180-200) as well as a corresponding Imlay 6mm pull cord (~$90). An alternative to the Canyon Fire would be to pick up a 92m Sterling Canyon Prime (currently on sale for $187) and cut it into 65m and a 27m lengths, so that I have two ropes. I've also seen affordable versions (~$140) of the ~200' versions of the Edelweiss Canyon and Blue Water Canyonator.

    (2) Rope bag: It seems like something we could probably do without (like we've done before), but it'd also be very useful, particularly if we we're using a ~200' rope as our primary rope. Imlay's medium Silo ($80), Sterling's Blitz ($67), On Rope Descent Bag ($65) all look fine. I'm not inclined to buy a dedicated pull-cord bag at this time.

    (3) Wetsuits: Wetsuits are recommended for at least four Utah canyons we'd like to do (Mystery, Pine Creek, Subway, and Orderville) in and may be useful in Yosemite as well. But, needless to say, buying four wetsuits at once is expensive, particularly where the 11-year old will outgrow his within a year. And renting is inconvenient and not necessarily cheap. One approach would to maybe buy decent 4:3 suits for myself and the missus (e.g., Hyperflex) since we could use them for the next decade. And perhaps we could buy either used suits (hard to find IME) or cheapo (~$40) 3mm suits for the kids (which could be used with in conjunction with capillene/merino base layers) while they're still growing. We did Keyhole with rented wetsuits last October. They were nice for one particular spot where it was maybe 4' deep, but we would have been okay without them overall. Of course, it was a very short canyon.

    (4) Other stuff: I feel like I can make do with my other gear. I know how to use and have practiced a little with a fiddlestick, but it seems better to keep it simple for now.

    Any advice would be appreciated. Alternatively, estimations on how quickly I'm likely to misguidedly kill myself and my family are also welcome.
  2. hank moon

    hank moon kinetically bulbous

    Messages:
    1,576
    Likes:
    1,951
    Location:
    Zions
    Orange or Silver ? If Orange, suggest you return them. See HERE for info on a specific problem with that device. Other issues with the Orange one (new model):

    - Fewer friction options (rope cannot be redirected over top of device for extra friction)
    - The one and only on-the-fly friction option adds only a little friction, and is relatively insecure
    - Insecure carabiner positioning system (i.e. after a little use, the device moves too freely on the carabiner)

    @Divisadero





    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: May 28, 2021
    Divisadero likes this.
  3. Divisadero

    Divisadero

    Messages:
    6
    Likes:
    11
    Oh no! They are the orange ones. I had kind of assumed that as the newer versions they'd be safer and better than the older ones. Thanks for the head's up!
  4. ratagonia

    ratagonia

    Messages:
    5,590
    Likes:
    7,007
    Location:
    Mount Carmel, Utah
    I have the old-style Silver ones available on CanyoneeringUSA.com store.

    Tom
  5. ratagonia

    ratagonia

    Messages:
    5,590
    Likes:
    7,007
    Location:
    Mount Carmel, Utah
    You ask several really big questions. I think you would do better to break it up into component parts... however, most of these questions have previously been discussed TO DEATH here and elsewhere. I am in a privileged/prejudiced position to answer these questions, so let me dive in:

    1) Rope: yes, you want canyoneering ropes. I think your best quiver is 2 x 120' plus 1 x 200', plus a pull cord. The Sterling Canyon Prime and the Bluewater Canyonator are both weak imitations of the Imlay ropes - they both feature rather thin sheaths = not very durable. Since you are not canyoneering every weekend of the year, you are likely to get 4 or 5 years out of Canyon Fire ropes, so why go with anything else? European Canyon ropes (Edelweiss) are semi-static to meet the current Euro standard, and thus tear up pretty quick.

    2) Rope Bags: I have always considered that a person classifies as a canyoneer when they realize that they really want a rope bag pretty much all the time. I have new less-expensive, lower performance, non-floating ropebags if you do not want to drop the cash for the Lexus-level product. The pull cord especially you really really want it to be in a bag. SECO-100 for the win. Your "Primary Ropes" are the 120's, so I would focus on getting ropebags for them.

    3. Wetsuits: not required for Mystery, Subway or Orderville in the summer. Definitely required for Pine Creek. Smaller people, especially skinny smaller people (as many kids are) need more insulation than full-size adults. That said, you might do well with shortee wetsuits, that are often available at yard sales, sometimes at the DI (Utahn for "Thrift Store"). But full wetsuits are much warmer. Taking the kids through Pine Creek, rent the full wetsuits or dry suits, for the kids. Standard surfing 4/3 wetsuits work well for Utah canyoneering - but they ain't cheap!

    4. Other Stuff: no need for the FiddleStick etc. Helmets, yes of course. Screwlock carabiners. Bring some black 1" tubular webbing, please, and a knife to cut the webbing. Get rid of the PASs and move to simpler/shorter/more efficient Clipster, or use an over-the-shoulder sling for that.

    5. Training: sounds like you and the wife taking a training course would be a good thing. Now offered in many different places, though Lake Tahoe is not one of them, alas...

    Tom
  6. Helo-ops

    Helo-ops

    Messages:
    52
    Likes:
    52
    Location:
    85022
    Not to be a killjoy, but you should start out with something small. Your questions are all beginner ones. If you don't have the answers you need to seek professional training. Please stay out of wet canyons, till you have some experience. Oh BTW SAR might come to get you, just saying.
  7. ratagonia

    ratagonia

    Messages:
    5,590
    Likes:
    7,007
    Location:
    Mount Carmel, Utah
    "might"
  8. Helo-ops

    Helo-ops

    Messages:
    52
    Likes:
    52
    Location:
    85022
    To harsh??
  9. ratagonia

    ratagonia

    Messages:
    5,590
    Likes:
    7,007
    Location:
    Mount Carmel, Utah
    I think so. Being reasonably competent and safe, especially when learned in other rope sports, is entirely possible without being canyoneering-gear savvy and/or part of the 'canyoneering community'.

    My "might" was essentially a Laconic joke...

    "if"
  10. ratagonia

    ratagonia

    Messages:
    5,590
    Likes:
    7,007
    Location:
    Mount Carmel, Utah
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laconic_phrase
    Helo-ops likes this.
  11. Divisadero

    Divisadero

    Messages:
    6
    Likes:
    11
    Thank you, all. Ratagonia, your advice was particularly helpful and I appreciate it.

    I'm fairly new to canyoneering but not to forums like this, although I'm not particularly attuned to the quirks and norms of this particular one. And I totally get that new folks like me always ask the same general questions over and over again. In that vein, I think I previously read nearly every thread here and on Bogley regarding ropes (my main issue). Yet it's hard as a relative newcomer not to have some trepidation about gearing up, particularly when the entrance cost is huge relative to the knowledge base. Mea culpa.

    FWIW, I have taken a canyoneering course. And, of course, I'd never rely on somebody else aside from partners for rescue, which is general backcountry responsibility 101.

    Thanks again, all.
    stefan likes this.
  12. Canyonero

    Canyonero

    Messages:
    1,152
    Likes:
    1,214
    I've got news for you. You're not an occasional canyoneer. You're doing more canyons this year than many canyoneers do in a decade. You are now a canyoneer. So get outfitted right. Don't bother "making do." Canyoneering gear is all disposable anyway. The stuff you use for canyoneering will soon be ruined for climbing as it wears out.

    1. If you're only going to buy one canyoneering rope, buy a 200 footer. But most of us end up eventually owning a quiver of ropes. Right now in my quiver are two 200s, a 300 foot pull cord, 3 100s, a 105, and a 50. Canyon ropes never die, they just get shorter. I used to have two 75s and a 120. The 120 became a 105, one 75 became the 50, and the other one ended up on my raft. Two of my 100s actually used to be a 200 too. Or sometimes ropes go to live on the bottom of a pothole for a while when @Bootboy forgets they don't float and didn't bring his SCUBA gear. A more ideal quiver would also include a 300, a 120, and a couple of 80s and perhaps a 100-200 foot pull cord. I'll probably get there eventually. But my point is that you're always going to be buying ropes so even if you don't get the perfect one the first time, there'll be another time. Better yet, make some friends who will buy some ropes. You don't need to own the whole quiver yourself. Sometimes we show up on a canyoneering trip and there are literally 25 ropes on the trip. Most of them obviously don't go in the packs, but we end up with lots of options. The more people in the canyon, the more ropes you should take, even if you don't technically need them. It allows you to work multiple problems/drops at once. As far as which rope, ANY canyoneering rope will be superior to any climbing rope. And that is said as someone who started out canyoneering with climbing ropes. My favorite fat rope is @ratagonia 's Canyonero rope. My favorite skinny rope is @Bootboy 's Grand rope. But I like the sterling ones too. When in doubt, get a fatter one. Some of the skinny ones out there right now are VERY skinny and can be VERY scary, especially for beginners with inadequate friction.

    2. Rope bags are nice, particularly for anything longer than 80 feet. Less than that, no big deal to coil the whole thing. Aside from flotation, the main benefit is being able to use 1/4 or 1/2 of it without having to stuff or coil the whole thing. They throw nicely too. Tom's are nice. I think Canyonwerks is out of business, but they had some nice one too. Very durable but a bit too bulky. My favorite's right now are @Bootboy's.

    3. Wetsuits are pretty standard canyoneering gear. They last surprisingly long if you keep something over them like knee/elbow pads, neo shorts/scuttlebutts, an old shirt, old shorts etc. My 11 year old 3/2 is still in use, but it doesn't look so good. That's pretty good considering how many backpacks, shoes, ropes etc I've been through in that time period. As a general rule, you want suits designed for surfing, not diving. Not every canyon needs one, especially right now, but you're going to want them. Play it Again sometimes has some. Good options for kids.

    4. Another piece of gear you will probably want is a canyoneering specific rappelling device. I prefer a CRITR2, but others like the SQWRL (sp?). Previous generations used the Pirahna or the ATS. Generations previous to them (and weight weenies) are still using ATCs or plain old figure eights. The key with both of those devices is knowing how to add friction both before the rappel starts (look up vertaco for a figure 8 and adding a second biner into an ATC) and after you weight the rope (like a Z rig). This is a very important canyoneering skill, especially when using single rope technique with today's skinny ropes. Most climbers who go into canyoneering undervalue this skill to their detriment and get to learn this lesson the hard way. At any rate, you have a Pirahna now. Go ahead and wear it out and upgrade when you need a new one.

    Canyoneering specific packs are also a very useful piece of gear. If you need a wetsuit, you need one of these. Good luck. @ratagonia is having supply chain issues so that limits you to European "Canyoning" brands and making your own from a durable climbing pack by putting grommets into it.

    Finally, the value of some sort of canyoneering specific boot or shoe is pretty darn high too. Approach shoes are used by many and are pretty good, but don't quite provide as much protection as a boot. I'll bet you own a pair before the end of the year at least for you. My kids don't always get them, but they sure appreciate them when they do.

    Sorry the sport can be so expensive, especially when you're trying to get a whole family into it at once.

    Here are some useful links:

    Ratagonia's store: https://www.imlaycanyongear.com/ https://www.canyoneeringusa.com/
    Bootboy's store: https://atwoodgear.com/
    Some European gear: https://www.canyonzone.com/c-2023261/canyon-packs/[/QUOTE]
  13. Divisadero

    Divisadero

    Messages:
    6
    Likes:
    11
    [/QUOTE]

    This is great. Thank you!
Similar Threads: Gear Recommendations
Forum Title Date
Tech Tips and Gear Gear Recommendations (Mostly Rope Related) Nov 30, 2015
Archives - Yahoo Canyons Group Swell Conditions and gear recommendations? Nov 14, 2007
Tech Tips and Gear Introducing the Gearrito Aug 27, 2021
General Discussion 2021 Imlay Canyon Gear Calendar Nov 9, 2020
Tech Tips and Gear Strategies and gear choices for going fast and light Sep 14, 2020
General Discussion Gear needed to START canyoneering? May 8, 2020