Camp Matik Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Gradual camming action, anti-panic lowering handle, easier for lefties
Cons: Expensive! Heavy, not quite as smooth as a GriGri
Manufacturer: Camp USA
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Camp Matik is a mechanical assisted locking belay device with an anti-panic feature on the lever. It's suitable for ropes in the 8.6 - 10.2 mm range. Like most active assist braking devices, it has its own unique method of usage, which requires learning and some practice before it is safe to belay with. In this case, the cam is held open by a trigger that you depress with your index (trigger) finger while pulling out slack. To get a full tutorial, check out this video.
For years one big concern about mechanical assisted braking devices was that the static arrest of the rope increased impact forces on climber, belayer, and gear. The Matik claims to solve this issue with a gradual camming action. In our tests, a couple more inches of rope passed through the Matik in a catch than with the other assisted braking devices. Theoretically, this should decrease impact forces, but we hesitate to say whether this will make a significant difference in real-world applications, as rope elongation and dynamic belaying techniques already go a long way to reducing impact forces in the case of a fall. How much the couple inches of slip through the device adds to these factors probably cannot be quantified. The Matik is approved for rope diameters from 8.6 to 10.2 mm, with Camp claiming 8.6 to 9.6 mm as ideal.
The Matik has a lowering lever with an anti-panic mechanism designed to prevent belayers from lowering climbers too fast. If you pull the lever back too far, the cam locks and the lever must be released before you can begin lowering again. This does add some margin of safety by preventing injuries that can result when an inexperienced belayer pulls aggressively and drops their partner to the ground.
For our experienced testers, though, this feature created some frustration. To lower a climber efficiently, the lever must stay within a narrow range that differs depending on rope diameter, stiffness, and friction. Finding this sweet spot can be tricky at first, or in some high friction circumstances, completely impossible. In those cases, the cam can be depressed with your index finger to manually lower a climber. This creates its own panic problems and is painful on your finger. The sweet spot range on the Matik felt slightly narrower than we found with other active assist devices that also share this feature.
Rope feeds smoothly through the Matik at low speeds. To feed slack to a leader quickly, you have to depress a tab at the bottom of the cam, pistol grip-like, using your thumb and forefinger. The motion is not dramatically different from that required with a GriGri except the primary force is applied with the index finger rather than the thumb. The position of the tab allows it to be gripped left or right-handed which makes it easier for southpaws to learn. It's a little harder than the GriGri to feed a big pull quickly because there's more resistance through the device.
The Matik weighs 9.7 ounces, making it the second heaviest belay device we tested. It's also the second-largest and is by no means what we would describe as small. The stiffest competition in active assisted braking devices is the Petzl GriGri, which weighs 38% less and is the same width but an inch shorter in length.
Auto-block (resistance belaying a second)
The Matik placed in the middle of the field for resistance when belaying a follower directly off an anchor. It's actual resistance numbers, though were closer to the lower end. By this, we mean the Matik could save you some energy compared to the tube style auto-block devices but will use slightly more than the other single strand assisted locking models.
The biggest problem with the Matik is the price. This legitimate challenger costs twice as much as the GriGri. However, for the extra money, we believe you receive a product that is better made and will last longer, improving its value.
The Matik impressed us with its sturdy construction and combination of safety features. Its anti-panic lowering lever and gradual camming action are sure to prevent some real-world injuries, though these benefits do come with drawbacks. It weighs 9.7 ounces and is not quite as smooth as the GriGri. Also, we suspect the price tag will be a dealbreaker for many shoppers. Until that price comes down, the Matik is best suited for users whose sole concern is safety.
— Andy Wellman & Jack Cramer