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SALS Rappeller

Front View: Closed Rear View: Closed
Front View: Closed Rear View: Closed
Front View: Open for Rigging Rear View: Open for Rigging
Front View: Open for Rigging Rear View: Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired my SALS Rappeller from Inner Mountain Outfitters in 2002.

My SALS Rappeller is 144 mm. tall, 148 mm. wide, 45 mm. thick, and weighs 730 g.

The SALS Rappeller is made from three pieces of milled anodized aluminum - body, control lever, and front plate - and several minor stainless steel components. The body is made from 25.4 mm aluminum milled to an irregular pentagonal shape with a handle off to one side. The lower portion of the body has a subtriangular eye that can accept a single carabiner. The edges of the eye are rounded with a 1.7 mm. radius. This small radius leaves one with the impression that the eye is somewhat "blocky," but there is no doubt about its strength. The main portion of the body has a 12.3 mm. deep milled cutout for the rope path and lever assembly. The rope follows a reverse "S" shaped path. From the top, the rope makes a 90° bend to the right around a thin (2.8 mm.) diameter guide at the top of the body, then bends approximately 135° to the left around a 4.6 mm. diameter projection on the control lever, then 90° right around a 4.5 mm. diameter corner milled into the frame. The rope then leaves the right side of the Rappeller at a 45° angle. The handle extends 81 mm. from the left side of the frame. Its cross-section is rectangular with 1.7 mm. radiused corners. The top of the handle has four milled finger grooves.

The control lever and front plate pivot on an 8(?) mm. stainless steel bolt. The control end extends below the frame handle. This end is rectangular in cross section (with 1.7 mm. radiused corners) and slightly shorter than the frame handle. A small hole near the outer end probably served as an alignment hole for machining. The working end of the lever has two projections. The rope runs around the upper one as mentioned in the preceding paragraph. Squeezing the lever against the handle causes this projection to force the rope against the flat surface above the corner where the rope makes its third bend. During use, the rope friction against the upper projection will cause the lever to open. When this occurs, the lower projection forces the rope against the lower portion of the curved corner. Both projections have inverse-radius curves where they contact the rope, as do the two corners in the frame.

The front plate covers the rope channel and working end of the lever. Three small slots allow mud to escape. There is a small slot at the lower left-hand corner of the cover that engages a mushroom-head pin set in the frame. A hole drilled through the upper right-hand corner of the cover plate and the body underneath accepts a 4.8 mm. diameter push pin to keep the front plate closed during use. The pin is attached to a tab on the pivot bolt by a stainless steel cable and a large split ring.

The front plate is marked with "SALS" in a double circle, "MADE IN THE U. S. A.," and "PATENT PENDING."


The SALS Rappeller is well-made, rugged, and obviously strong enough for normal use. Aesthetically, its blocky appearance leaves something to be desired. The eye should have been made larger so that it could accommodate two maillons, and it should have been rounded to provide more freedom for the device to rotate on the maillons. The handle could have been rounded. I find the fingergrips to be useless unless one attaches the Rappeller at head-level or above - a practice that I neither support not understand.

I do not like the small-radius turns that the rappeller subjects the rope to. In particular, the top 90° bend is around a 1.4 mm radius edge; I’d like to see a minimul of eight to ten times that amount. Curiously, the radii increase as one moves toward the rope tail, where the lower rope tension justifies smaller radii.

The Rappeller seems to function reasonably well on 11 mm. rope, but I noticed a problem on 9 mm. line that may get some users into trouble. In particular, when the control lever is firmly held against the handle, there is still a 7.7 mm. gap between the upper lever projection and the frame. This is not enough to stop someone rappelling on 9 mm. rope; in fact, I can hold the lever closed and easily pull a 9 mm. rope through the Rappeller with one hand. The user must not rely on this panic stop feature when using thin ropes.

The control handle is not effective on ropes that are smaller than 11 mm.