< Go to Belay Device

Hands-on Gear Review

Trango Cinch Review


Belay Device

Click to enlarge
Price:   Varies from $69 - $86 online  —  Compare at 2 sellers
Pros:  Small, affordable, low auto-block resistance
Cons:  Narrow lowering range, awkward to learn, narrow diameter range
Editors' Rating:     
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Manufacturer:   Trango

Overview

For a few years the Trango Cinch challenged the original Petzl GriGri for being the best assisted locking belay device. Since then the Petzl GriGri 2 came out and other companies entered the market with their own designs. The Cinch has lost its status as the lightest and smallest assisted locking model and new passive options now retail for half the price. Therefore, the Cinch no longer receives a Top Pick award, but it's still a solid belay device with the same smooth action and reliable catch it always had. Some of our testers struggled to master the unique feeding mechanism. However, once they did they were impressed with how quick it let them pay out rope. Overall though, we encourage shoppers to consider the other options in The Best Belay Device Review.

RELATED: Our complete review of belay device

Compare Side-by-Side

Compare all Belay Device >

Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings

Review by:
Jack Cramer
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Sunday
January 31, 2016
The Trango Cinch is an assisted locking device that is the closest competition to the Editors' Choice winning Petzl GriGRi 2. Some say that it works better for lefties.

Performance Comparison


Click to enlarge
A Cinch overlooking the Oregon high desert.

Catch/Bite


The Cinch is designed for ropes between 9.4 and 11.0 mm. Within this range it capably catches falls and locks off a hang-dogging partner, saving you hand strength and boosting peace of mind. After locking, the motion to unlock it is a counterintuitive squeeze with the left (non-brake) hand. This is cool because your brake hand never has to move. We recommend anyone trying the Cinch for the first time watch the instructional video several times. You'll find a link to that video at the bottom of this page. The belay techniques required are unique to the Cinch and can take some time to master. However, once you do, it's as every bit as functional as the other assisted locking devices.

Lowering/Rappelling


Click to enlarge
The different lowering handles on the four active assisted locking devices. Clockwise from the upper left: the Edelrid Eddy, Camp Matik, Trango Cinch, and Petzl GriGri 2. Notice how the Cinch's handle is oriented in the opposite direction and pulls away from a belayer during lowering/rappelling. We think this design is easier for lefties.
Like all the assisted locking devices, the Cinch has a handle to control lowering or rappelling speed. The Cinch's handle is the only one that pulls away from the belayer/rappeller rather than towards. In our opinion this makes it a little more ambidextrous and easier to operate for left-handers. The handle range that determines lowering speed is narrower on this device than the other assisted locking models, so please be careful not to you drop your partner too quickly.

Feeding Slack


Feeding slack with the Cinch is different than all the other devices, it has to be held horizontally and rigged for rope to feed through from right to left. The thumb and index finger of your right hand keep it in this position while the remaining three fingers control the brake strand. Our testers found this motion the hardest to learn and it received many complaints from short-roped leaders during their education. Eventually some testers mastered the technique though, and the Cinch proved to be one of the smoothest at feeding slack.

Auto-block (resistance belaying a second)


The Cinch tied with the Petzl GriGri 2 for the lowest resistance when belaying a follower directly off an anchor. The Cinch performed slightly better with a smaller 9.0 mm rope and the GriGri 2 better in a larger 10.1 mm test. Both devices have a significant advantage over other models in this application and can be employed on long multi-pitch climbs to save your strength for the climbing instead of the belaying.

Weight/Bulk


At 6.6 ounces, for several years the Cinch was the lightest and smallest mechanical assisted locking device available. Ever since the 2011 introduction of the 6.1 oz GriGri 2, that's no longer the case. It does retain its lead in size though, and is currently the smallest of these devices.

Durability


Click to enlarge
The center pin on the Cinch is our primary durability concern. Although stainless steel, it's a fairly small surface subjected to a lot of rope friction.
The primary reason for retiring Cinches seems to be wear to the critical center pin that the rope rubs across. Although this piece is stainless steel, it's small and subjected to a lot of rope friction. We've read reports of Cinches losing their assisted locking ability after this piece gets worn down in as little as 18 months of heavy use. As with any belay device, always keep a hand on the brake and be careful with different ropes because diameter and sheath characteristics can have a big influence on the braking force.

Best Applications


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

Value


With an MSRP of $85.95, the Cinch is the cheapest active assisted locking device. However, durability issues lead us to suspect that the other more expensive options provide a better value over their whole lifespans. This includes even the $200 Camp Matik, which we think could potentially last three times as long.

Conclusion


Click to enlarge
The Trango Cinch was our favorite big wall belay device before the improved GriGri 2 came out.
In our previous look at belay devices, the Cinch had enough advantages over the original GriGri in size, weight, and price to earn it a Top Pick award. Today, the GriGri 2 has taken the lead in weight and narrowed the price difference while also proving to be every bit as reliable as it's predecessor. In addition, other viable options, like the Edelrid Mega Jul, have entered the market to compete as affordable passive assisted braking options. For these reasons the Cinch no longer receives a Top Pick award, but any shopper searching for the smallest and cheapest active assisted locking device should still consider it.

Other Versions and Accessories


The Cinch is available in green or red. Trango also offers two different tube-style devices: the aptly named toothed device, the Trango Jaws, and a basic symmetrical design, the Trango Pyramid.

Video


Jack Cramer

Where to Buy?

Seller Price  Shipping Cost Visit
Backcountry
$68.76  -  20% off! FREE!*
Amazon $85.95 Check Site

Thinking about buying some gear we've reviewed? Help OutdoorGearLab out if you do. Just click on any of the above seller links and if you make any purchase, the seller will contribute a portion of the sale to help support this site. It won't cost you anything extra, and it's a simple way to help us fund our gear reviews. Thanks!

*Most retailers free shipping offers apply only to lower 48 US states using ground/economy shipping. See retailer's website for details.


OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: January 31, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 100%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


Have you used the Trango Cinch?
Don't hold back. Share your viewpoint by posting a review with your thoughts...

Write a Review on this Gear
Where's the Best Price?
Seller Price
Backcountry $68.76  -  20% off!
Amazon $85.95
Compare prices at 2 sellers >

*You help support OutdoorGearLab's product testing and reviews by purchasing from our retail partners.
Helpful Buying Tips

Unbiased.