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Trango Cinch Review

   
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Belay Device

  • Currently 4.0/5
Overall avg rating 4.0 of 5 based on 11 reviews. Most recent review: September 19, 2013
Street Price:   Varies from $64 - $86 | Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  low bulk, rope range, usually feeds effortlessly
Cons:  awkward lowering, not intuitive to use
Best Uses:  sport climbing, trad climbing, big wall climbing
User Rating:     
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 (4.0 of 5) based on 10 reviews
Recommendations:  75% of reviewers (6/8) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Trango
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ February 16, 2010  
Overview
This is a great auto assist belay device that we liked more and more the longer we spent with it. It has a simple design that reduces its weight and bulk compared to the GriGri. It also pays out rope exceptionally smoothly once you figure it out. Overall, it is a great value and is recommended down to 9.4mm ropes, something the GriGri is not. The GriGri finally has some tough competition. As with the GriGri, you need to carry another device in addition to the Cinch if you want to rappel with two ropes.

The Petzl GriGri has long dominated the auto-locking belay device field. The Trango Cinch now challenges that. The main advantages of the Cinch:
  • Price: $25 less than the GriGri
  • Ease of paying out the rope with a brake hand still on
  • Weight: 20 percent lighter than GriGri
  • Recommended rope size range. Trango says you can use 9.4-11mm with the Cinch and Petzl only recommends 10mm-11mm with the GriGri.
We still think the GriGri is the better device for gym and sport climbing. But the Cinch is our preffered device for big walls and multi-pitch climbs because it is more versital, lighter and compact and it feeds smoother.

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Likes
The design of the Trango Cinch is simple and elegant. Trango describes it as "about as complicated as a door hinge." It really is amazing how effective a couple pieces of sandwiched metal are at catching falls. The Cinch is lighter than the GriGri by a little more than an ounce. More importantly, because it is a smaller, less bulky design, it swings around less when clipped to the side of your harness.

Once you get the hang of it, feeding rope is smoother than with any device we tested. And, if you follow Trango's instructions carefully, you are able to quickly feed rope with your hand still on the brake hand. This is something that is much harder to do with a GriGri. Most climbers you see belaying with the GriGri always have their brake hand on the device and not on the rope. Petzl recommends belaying like this only for a second or two to feed rope fast. If you belay the way Petzl recommends (with your brake hand 99 percent of the time on the rope), it is much less smooth to pay out slack than with the Cinch.

Trango recommends this device on ropes down to 9.4mm. It says you can even use thinner ropes but need to pay much closer attention. In contrast, the GriGri is recommended only down to 10mm. It's an edge for the Cinch. Or is it? You see many people using the GriGri on ropes thinner than 10mm. So what's the deal? This is a complicated issue. Basically the Cinch and GriGri both work on thinner ropes but it comes down to where the manufacturer is comfortable "recommending" a certain diameter. Petzl is only comfortable recommending down to 10mm. Trango is comfortable recommending down to 9.4mm. But both say you can use skinnier ropes than are recommended. So there is no easy answer to the question, "What is the absolute smallest rope size I can use with the Cinch or GriGri." In our tests with 8.5mm ropes we found they both locked off great. What is clear is that the thinner the rope, the more carefully you have to pay attention. For really skinny ropes, using a belay glove is almost mandatory to be able to carefully lower a climber.

Dislikes
The Cinch was not as smooth at lowering climbers or rappelling as the GriGri. It works fine, just not as smoothly. When lowering a climber in the gym, it took more effort to get the right lowering speed. This device was much smoother at feeding rope than the GriGri up to a crucial point: when the leader is reaching to clip and you are not paying out rope fast enough. At this point the Cinch starts to lock up a little and it is harder to get it out of the auto-locking mode. Therefore, you need to be more attentive when belaying to keep from "short roping" the leader.

The Cinch is not as intuitive to use as the GriGri. It is the only device we tested where it was really really important to read all the instructions and watch the How To videos. Once you do that the device gets a lot easier and smoother to use. For example, when lowering you need to put your thumb in just the right spot. When holding the device to belay a leader, it is important to have your fingers in one special spot. At the gym we saw very few people using the device exactly as Trango recommends. They weren't being unsafe, but they were not getting as smooth an operation as was possible.

Trango calls this an "auto-assist" device. They don't want you thinking it is an "auto-locking" device that needs less attention than a manual device. Trango makes it clear that this is a device for advanced climbers and not beginners; it even etches that fact on the newer devices. In contrast, the GriGri is often the only device you see at a gym with first-time climbers. The GriGri is faster to get the hang of and more user friendly for beginners.

Personal Stories
Says Chris McNamara: "At first I had a hard time with this device. But once I read all the instructions and watched the How To videos, I was pleasantly surprised by how easily it feeds rope. I was even more surprised by how well it self-belays, even smoother than a Mini Traxion. This could be awesome for big walls because it means that when jugging a pitch, you would have self-belay backup in case your ascenders popped off (but it would still be important to tie backup knots). I was just about to replace my Mini Traxion and GriGri when I read how Trango strongly recommends against this use. So much for that. Of course Petzl also says you are not supposed to use the GriGri for self- belay."

From OutdoorGearLab gear reviewer and author Ian Nicholson: "The Cinch took a little while to get used to maybe this is because I was used to a GriGri. The first couple of times I kept short clipping people. It did get better but I would still mess up every so often. I do like that it is smaller and the company stands behind it. It works well with maybe a little more practice than the GriGri. It is also a lot less coin. The lowering handle is even slightly more sensitive than the GriGri as a warning for first-time users not to drop their partner on the ground.

Best Application
This is ideal for experienced climbers for sport, cragging, gym and big walls. It can do it all (except rap two ropes).

Value
This is a great value. It costs $25 less than the GriGri. The only less expensive auto-locking device is the Mammut Smart, but that device does not belay nearly as smoothly and you can't belay off the anchor with it.

The Video Below Shows How to Use the Cinch

Chris McNamara

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: September 19, 2013
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 5
 (4.0)

75% of 8 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
10 Total Ratings
5 star: 60%  (6)
4 star: 20%  (2)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 20%  (2)
Sort 10 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Apr 27, 2012 - 12:00pm
MTkirk · Climber · Billings
A little weird getting used to it in the beginning, but now I love it. You must use it exactly as shown in the video & tech sheet to get it to function properly, especially to belay a leader & repel. For belaying a leader it is very easy to feed out rope when held correctly. Once you get used to it, rapelling is pretty good too (though the device gets very, very HOT!). For belaying a second it is absolutely awesome, my atc guide never gets used anymore. I also use it as a top rope self-belay device (yes, I know this is not recommended, but I always use a back-up rope with loops that I clip into slings on my harness as I climb). I have used a mini-traxion, a micro-cender, & a gri-gri for top rope self-belay, the cinch is by far the best; it is gentle on your rope, feeds like a dream, & you can instantly switch to repel.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Nov 9, 2010 - 04:46pm
WindRidfter · Climber · Wyoming
Up till recently I loved the thing (small, light, takes skinny ropes, cool looking, etc.) EXCEPT for lowering, which was a real pain in the #ss. This weekend I tried the old 'clip a carabiner to my leg loop and clip the brake strand in to that before lowering' trick and it made a HUGE difference.

Now I really do love the thing, no need for the new GriGri and it's $$$$$$ price when it comes out.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Sep 19, 2013 - 12:23am
GearMe · Climber
Research before you buy something that is meant to keep someone safe. Google "Trango Cinch failure" or "Trango Cinch accidents" and decide for yourself.

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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   Sep 9, 2011 - 11:17am
YoungGun · Climber · North
Pros:
  • Simple design
  • Feeds rope really well, after you get used to it

Cons:
  • Minimum rope size 9.4mm
  • Not much intrinsic friction if the cam doesn't engage

CAUTION: Twice the device has failed to cam during a fall, once with a 9.8mm rope and once with a 9.2mm rope. In one case hitting the device eventually caused it to lock, in another case the climber decked. Either way if the thing doesn't cam, there's no way you're going to catch a fall because there's no intrinsic friction in the device.

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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   Sep 1, 2010 - 12:26am
snaps10 · Climber · Visalia, CA
I've used it a dozen or so times now. Bottom line, it is lighter, smoother, and cheaper than the gri-gri, and in my opinion easier to use (assuming you watch the video like everyone recommends).

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Aug 30, 2010 - 07:40am
E thatch · Climber · New Hampshire
While I almost always still carry my ATC when using my cinch (it's so light, why not) I have been forced to rappel with a Cinch and it's truly no big deal. I prefer to extend the cinch with a 2 footer when lowering my self so that my wrist isn't in a funky position. One just has to do a single line rappel with it by tying a figure eight on one side of the rope and locking it to the other with a locker as though you were backing up a tag line.
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Aug 30, 2010 - 04:06am
 
Strider · Climber · ಠ_ಠ
Just something I noticed at the crag this past week…a gentleman on a climb next to me was belaying with a Cinch on a brand new rope that had a piece of tape wrapped around the rope to mark the middle. The gentleman went to lower his belayer and when it came time to feed the taped portion through the device, it locked up and would not feed. So he had spend several minutes trying to unwrap the tape from the rope before he could continue to lower. I could see this being a big problem with being short-roped on lead if you are on a longer climb. I do not know the diameter of the rope used.

Bottom line: If you use tape to mark the middle of your rope and you use a Cinch, you better check the smooth operation of the unit in this circumstance before it becomes a problem in the field.
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   Jan 27, 2010 - 06:29pm
pglee · Climber · Oakland, CA
As the main review and others have stated, the device must be used correctly to fully appreciate it's advantages over other belay devices. I've been using it consistently now for over a month and I am still learning different nuances of the device to make it work better and more safely. The main thing I discovered is that it's important to orientate the device so that rope feeds in as straight a vertical line as possible. If done this way, the cinch won't accidentally catch, and the rope feeds almost as if no device is there. I find I don't have to pay out arm fulls of rope when the leader clips. Often times, the climber simply pulls the rope through the device himself. The other advantage is that you can just as easily take in slack without ever having to move the right hand from the pay out position by simply pulling in slack with the left hand. Because there's so little friction when the device is orientated this way, it also means that the belayer must be attentive since the device can potentially not catch a falling climber if kept in this orientation. You have to be really asleep at the wheel for this to happen though since all it takes is a slight change in angle or a quick grasp of the rope for it to catch. I also find it's easier to control the descent if you keep the brake hand low and behind the hip, much like a regular belay device, when lowering a climber.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jan 16, 2010 - 09:54pm
Kris S · Climber · CA desert
After years of using the ATC (always trad climbing) I ended up needing an autolocking device for a euro sport climbing trip. I repeatedly tried to use the Grigri and found it difficult to feed rope while still having an active break hand. Then we decided to try the cinch and after one or two days it became perfection. Feeding rope could not be easier while remaing safe. Also being rated for use on ropes down to 9.4 is great. I am a lightweight female and having this as my belay device for heavier climbers gives me alot of peace mind. I also love it for bringing up my second on multi-pitch. I do not rap with it and lowering is not as nice as an ATC (similar to Grigri). Still, I now use it as my primary belay device even for trad. For those that find it difficult to use, give it a few days and you will not want to use anything else!

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Dec 17, 2009 - 05:54pm
Chris Durand · Climber · Albuquerque, NM
Like the review says, watch the 'how to video' before using the Cinch. I love my Cinch it feeds out to the leader almost as though there is no device there at all. I have used manual type devices for over 15 years as my primary device because I was never was very comfortable with feeding rope with the GriGri. The Cinch fixed that discomfort. My hand never leaves the break end of the rope.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Trango Cinch belay device
Trango Cinch belay device
Credit: http://www.trango.com/prod.php?id=102
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