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Ropeman 1 vs Kong Duck: Which Saddle Hunting Ascender is Best?

If there’s one thing no two saddle hunters can agree on, it’s equipment selection. From the big items like saddles and platforms, down to ropes and ascenders, opinions vary widely on what constitutes the best saddle hunting setup.

For this particular article, we’re looking at the two primary options for saddle hunting ascenders — the Ropeman 1 and the Kong Duck. We include a detailed comparison of the two, examining their features, performance, user experiences, and safety aspects to help you determine the best option for your needs.

Our Verdict

Both the Ropeman 1 and the Kong Duck are reliable and popular choices for saddle hunters. The Ropeman 1 offers a lightweight, minimalist design, and a more affordable price point, making it an excellent option for hunters on a budget or those who prefer simplicity. 

The Kong Duck, on the other hand, is compatible with a wider range of rope types, making it suitable for various applications and appealing to hunters who need an adaptable ascender.

Ultimately, the choice between the two will depend on your personal preferences, budget, and the type of rope you intend to use. I ultimately went with the Ropeman 1 due to its better price point and increased availability.

I’m currently considering the move to lighter, more compact 8mm ropes for my saddle hunting setup, which would require a switch to the Kong Duck. The bottom line is that both work excellent and will get the job done as long as you’re using them within the recommended specs. 

The teeth or the Ropeman 1 and Kong Duck acenders.

Quick Comparison

FeatureRopeman 1Kong Duck
Weight62 grams (2.19 oz)70 grams (2.47 oz)
MaterialAluminum alloy, stainless steelAluminum alloy
Rope Compatibility10-13mm diameter8-13mm diameter
Rope Type CompatibilityKernmantle ropesKernmantle, static, semi-static
Cam MechanismToothed camSpring-loaded toothed cam
Attachment PointBuilt-inSeparate eyelet for carabiner
Ease of UseSimple operationRequires practice for proper use
PriceGenerally more affordableHigher price point
Safety CertificationCE EN 567CE EN 567, UIAA

Ropeman 1

Design and Construction

Manufactured by Wild Country, the Ropeman 1 is a compact and lightweight rope ascender made from aluminum alloy and featuring a stainless-steel cam. The device has a minimalist design, weighing just 62 grams. Its construction ensures durability and reliable performance in various conditions. The ergonomic shape allows users to handle the device comfortably during use.

Rope Compatibility

The Ropeman 1 is designed for use with single ropes ranging from 10 to 13mm in diameter. It works best with kernmantle ropes, ensuring a strong grip and smooth operation. The narrow range of compatible rope diameters may limit its versatility for some users.

Clamping Mechanism and Performance:

The Ropeman 1 utilizes a stainless-steel cam with teeth to clamp onto the rope, ensuring a secure grip. This toothed cam design reduces rope slippage and wear, providing smooth ascension and reliable performance in various conditions. The downside of the toothed cam is that it may cause damage to the rope if not used correctly or if the rope is already compromised.

Ease of Use

The Ropeman 1 is easy to install and remove from a rope, thanks to its straightforward design. The minimalist construction makes it simple to operate, even for users new to saddle hunting. The learning curve for using the Ropeman 1 is relatively short, making it an excellent choice for beginners.

Price

The Ropeman 1 is generally more affordable than the Kong Duck, making it an attractive option for hunters on a budget. However, the price difference should be balanced against the features and compatibility requirements of the user.

Safety and Certification

The Ropeman 1 is CE EN 567 certified, which indicates that it meets the European safety requirements for rope clamps. The certification provides assurance that the Ropeman 1 is a reliable and safe choice for saddle hunting and climbing applications.

User Experiences

Many users praise the Ropeman 1 for its compact design, ease of use, and reliability. Some concerns have been raised about the potential for rope damage, but with proper use and careful handling, this risk can be minimized. Overall, the Ropeman 1 is well-received by the saddle hunting community.

The Ropeman 1 ascender in use.

PROS

  • Lightweight and compact design (62 grams).
  • Durable aluminum alloy construction with a stainless-steel cam.
  • Easy to install and remove from a rope.
  • Short learning curve, suitable for beginners.
  • Generally more affordable than the Kong Duck.

CONS

  • Agressive cam teeth may damage ropes
  • Will not work on smaller diameter ropes under 10mm

Kong Duck

Design and Construction

The Kong Duck, made by the Italian company Kong, is a versatile rope clamp designed for both climbing and belaying applications. Made from aluminum alloy, the Duck weighs slightly more than the Ropeman 1 at 70 grams. Its unique design allows it to be used with a wide range of rope diameters and materials. The Kong Duck also features an ergonomic grip and an eyelet that accommodates a carabiner for secure attachment.

Rope Compatibility

The Kong Duck stands out for its versatility, accommodating ropes from 8 to 13mm in diameter. It can handle a variety of rope materials, including kernmantle, static, and semi-static lines. This broad compatibility is a significant advantage for hunters who use different rope types, making it suitable for various applications beyond saddle hunting.

Clamping Mechanism and Performance

The Kong Duck features a unique clamping mechanism using a spring-loaded aluminum cam with teeth. This design allows it to automatically adapt to different rope diameters, providing a secure grip and easy adjustments. Some users have reported occasional slippage, which can be mitigated by proper rope orientation and management. The Kong Duck’s clamp also has the potential to cause rope damage, but the risk is minimized with proper use.

Ease of Use

The Kong Duck also boasts an easy-to-use design, with the added benefit of accommodating various rope sizes and types. The Duck’s automatic adjustment feature simplifies rope handling, allowing for a more streamlined experience. However, mastering the proper technique for using the Kong Duck may require more practice than the Ropeman 1, particularly in preventing slippage.

Price

While the Kong Duck is typically priced higher than the Ropeman 1, its versatility and compatibility with various rope types may justify the additional investment for some users. The higher price point may be more reasonable for those who require a more adaptable ascender for different applications.

Safety and Certification

The Kong Duck is also CE EN 567 certified, ensuring that it adheres to the same safety standards as the Ropeman 1. Additionally, the Kong Duck meets the UIAA (International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation) standards, further reinforcing its safety and reliability.

User Experiences

The Kong Duck receives positive feedback for its versatility and broad rope compatibility. Some users have reported occasional slippage issues, but with practice and attention to proper technique, these concerns can be addressed. The Duck’s adaptability to different rope types and applications has made it a popular choice among many saddle hunters.

PROS

  • Versatile design, suitable for climbing and belaying applications.
  • Broad rope compatibility (8-13mm diameter).
  • Compatible with a variety of rope materials (kernmantle, static, and semi-static lines).
  • Unique spring-loaded aluminum cam with teeth for automatic adjustment.
  • Ergonomic grip and eyelet for carabiner attachment.

CONS

  • Slightly heavier than the Ropeman 1 (70 grams).
  • Higher price point compared to the Ropeman 1.
  • Requires an oval carabiner.
  • Requires more practice to master proper use and prevent slippage.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the Ropeman 1 and Kong Duck are both reputable choices for saddle hunters, each catering to different needs and preferences. The Ropeman 1’s simplicity and affordability make it ideal for beginners and budget-conscious hunters, while the Kong Duck’s versatility and adaptability attract those seeking a more flexible solution. 

When making your decision, carefully weigh the advantages and drawbacks of each ascender to find the perfect match for your saddle hunting adventures. Regardless of your choice, always prioritize safety and proper technique to ensure a rewarding and enjoyable experience.

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