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Petzl Pirana Descender


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    27 Reviews


    Big haul bags and long rappels are no longer a dreaded combination thanks to the Petzl Pirana Descender.

    The Petzl Pirana Descender provides excellent rope control and a smooth lower when you're rapping long lines with heavy loads. Rappelling a 150ft single line with a heavy pack is no longer a guaranteed white-knuckle horror show; you won't even notice the weight when you use the Petzl Pirana Descender. Its two breaking spurs allow you to increase or decrease friction on the go and are used to secure the device, so you have both hands free to build the next anchor.
    • Item #PTZ0146

    Tech Specs

    Auto Locking
    Rope Diameter
    9 - 13 mm
    Claimed Weight
    3.2 oz
    Recommended Use
    Manufacturer Warranty
    1 year

    Tech Specs

    • Reviews
    • Q & A

    What do you think about this product?

    Have questions about this product?

    Great, but....

    • Familiarity: I've used it several times

    Great descender! However, if you’re going to purchase this descender vs a CRITR or an ATS because of the price, I would let you know you will most likely need to buy a new carabiner to use it. Petzl reccomends the Attache or the William (both petzl). So you’ll spend an additional $15-17 so you can use it whereas the CRITR is compatible with any locking carabiner.

    Tons of flexibility

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    I love how many configurations you can run on this thing for a variety of conditions, rope lengths, weights. I am currently using it on a steep backyard slope to plant ground cover, because it's so flexible depending on how I rigged and what I'm hauling.

    My all time favorite!!

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    This is by far my favorite rappel device! It might have something to do with the fact that this is the device I learned to rappel on, but I have tried most of the major devices out there (ATC, ATS, Rappel Rack, Figure 8, GriGri, etc) and I still come back to this one. It is the perfect blend of speed, friction, ease of use, and safety features! My preferred method of rappelling is on a single strand and I struggle with friction on most devices since I'm usually too light to get down smoothly on the lowest setting of friction. The Figure 8 was the only one I could get down smoothly, but I ultimately do not like the lack of adequate control and horns (plus the added risk of getting girth hitched on the rope). The Pirana takes the idea of the Figure 8 and vastly improves the design. It can also be used on single or double strand rappels!

    I use the Petzl Am'd Twist-Lock carabiner with this as recommended by Petzl and it fits perfectly. The Priana has to be tight on a carabiner so it does not move independently of the carabiner. This is what allows you to keep the device attached to your belay loop. This is the perfect device for rappels into water because you don't have to take the Pirana or carabiner off your belay loop to get off-rope while swimming, so you don't have to worry about dropping your rappel device. I also love the ability to adjust the friction with multiple settings to accurately suit the needs of each individual rappel, plus it is great to be able to tie off while on this device if I ever need to be hands free. That makes this a good rescue device as well.

    I can't rave about the Pirana enough! My only complaint is that I wish they used a stronger metal to make these, because this wears out fast if your rappelling in water with sandstone (so most of Utah canyoneering which is primarily what I use this for). Sandstone and water combined make for the ultimate erosion factor and you'll notice the grooves on your Pirana pretty quick. It doesn't bug me enough to stop using this though because when it starts to wear I just pick up another one of these bad boys.

    My all time favorite!!

    Must have for water canyons

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    Love the Pirana for swimmer potholes. So much easier and smoother to get off rappel than ATC or other devices when swimming. Yes, this piece wears out a little faster than I'd like it to, but consider the amount of use and how useful it is, it's totally worth it.

    Simple and easy to use.

    • Familiarity: I've used it several times

    I've used the Pirana a handful of times canyoneering and have been really impressed by how easy it is to use. As the other reviews have mentioned, braking with this device is easy, and you don't have to remove it from your harness to get it off the rope, so you don't risk losing your rappel device mid-canyon.


    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    Love the Pirana! Simple to use yet super versatile and lots of safety options, rapping with figure 8's and an 8mm rope can send you screaming down the face with gloves burning.. just add friction using the breaking spurs with a few simple maneuvers of the hand and problem solved! Locking off in any situation is so simple with this, quick, safe, and easy.

    I recommend adding a rapid link or possibly two biners of your belay loop to eliminate the awkward twist.


    Petzl Pirana Rappelling Old Reliable

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    I'm not sure how long I've had my Petzl Pirana, but it's given many years of reliable rappelling service in canyons, walls, backcountry skiing and mountaineering adventures. Very easy to control friction and you'll just toss your old figure 8 in a box for friends. I've been using it with the Black Diamond Rocklock biner

    Parker Creek, Tonto National Forrest, AZ

    a pirana is a must for any swimming disconnects, you never have to take the device off to get disconnected. not to mention the ability to add friction on the fly and easy auto block. worth the money for sure

    Parker Creek, Tonto National Forrest, AZ

    Favorite Rappel Device

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    This rappel device turns the generic figure 8 rappel device in the ultimate rappel device. You rappel like you normally would with a figure 8 device but you also have options. If you need to slow down a bit you can wrap your rope over one of the prongs mid rappel. If you need to lock off its just as easy, wrap your rope around the prongs a couple times and you are locked off. It's that easy. This device works great with the Petzl Attache Carabiner. This is a great device for canyoneering.

    Great Rappel Device

      Awesome lock off capability, just makes sure you have the right size carabiner due to the anti-slip device.

      Excelente dispositivo

        Muy buen equipo el Pirana, no adecuado para personas de bajo peso, yo era usuario unico y exclusivo del 8 con orejas, pero despues de usar el pirana, me quedo con el pirana. Las diferentes posiciones para el control de velocidad son excelentes, asi como sus 2 posiciones de frenado temporal y y de largo tiempo. Deberian de ofrecerlo siempre con el mosqueton William Petzl, ya que no cualquiera le queda.

        Excelente dispositivo

        Best device for Canyoneers

          I have been using this device for a couple of years now. I would say that it is the best descending device for Canyoneering. I did just get an ATS and am looking forward to comparing the two. The various friction setting and easy of lock off makes this my go to piece. Make sure that you get a binder that will fit the device. Most of the Petzl locking biners will work, but larger diamater biners will not. This is due to the anti slip/rotating piece where the binder connects too the device.

          A must for canyoneering

            this is a must for technical canyoneering in my opinion. i have used an BD act, totem, etc. This is just solid, and easily adjustable. got me through heaps canyon, which would have been a pain to have dealt always taking off the device and possibly loosing it in the holes. you don't have to undo it to take off the rope, and it won't fall off either. loved it.

            Have loved it, but upgrading to ATS

              I've been using a pirana to rappel with since I started canyoneering about 2 years ago. I like it more than an ATC (which I occasionally use) because it's so much easier to add friction on rappel (just throw a wrap around the horns) and you can get a lot more friction with the pirana than with an ATC (which comes in handy for big drops).

              It's a great product, but I see 2 downsides compared to an ATC. 1, it's a lot heavier, and 2, I find it harder to choke up with, (and maybe 3, you can't belay with it, but I only use it canyoneering, so that's not really an issue).

              All that being said, I'm upgrading to the Sterling ATS mainly because it has horns on both sides of the device, so you never need to worry about having the brake line on the correct side to add friction mid rappel (the ATS can also serve as a belay device, which is nice too).

              Have loved it, but upgrading to ATS

              When compared to the ATS I found the Pirana a bit faster on small lines than I wanted, the ATS put me right about where I wanted in standard modes.

              I second the recommendation for the ATS over the Pirana, especially, for heavier users or for long single line raps with moderate to heavy pack.

              Great device

                Very easy and fun to use. Needed something for thick static rope single strand rappelling and this works great. The cons are the same that you get with figure 8's.....kinks rope some, gets hot when rappelling fast, and leaves black residue on gloves and rope.

                Has anyone used this with a double strand rappel? I know it works well for single strand but i'm curious how well it would work doubled up?

                I know everybody says to use the Attache...

                I know everybody says to use the Attache or William biner for this but does anybody know if the BD Rocklock will fit?

                What is the largest diameter of rope that...

                What is the largest diameter of rope that I could use with the petzl pirana descender?

                how do you use this thing?

                how do you use this thing?

                Best Answer

                Check Petzl's website, they have pictures.This device is more or less an advanced figure 8 rappel device. It is designed so you can load your rope on it without removing it from your belay loop or carabiner. It does take some practice to use it but once you figure out how to load it its pretty simple. A warning with small diameter ropes: USE the high friction mode! When using a small diameter rope on a long rappel (Say 200-300ft) you will start out VERY slow but gain speed very fast its crucial you have heavy leather rappel gloves and use the high friction mode.