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Gear Review



Page Type: Gear Review

Object Title: Jaws

Manufacturer: Trango

Your Opinion: 
 - 7 Votes


Page By: John

Created/Edited: Sep 21, 2002 / Sep 21, 2002

Object ID: 480

Hits: 3449 


A tube-style belay/rappel device that features unique double V notches designed for greater breaking power.
  • Two 0.75 inch V shaped notches for rope locking. Supposed to lock off twin 8mm ropes as easily as an 11mm rope.
  • Smooth side option when less friction is needed, e.g. low-angle or long double rope rappels.
Online Resources:Similar Products: Black Diamond ATC & ATC-XP, DMM The Bug, HB Sheriff, Metolius BRD, OP SBG II, Petzl Reverso, Trango B-52, Trango Pyramid.


Viewing: 1-4 of 4

JohnUntitled Review

Voted 2/5

I was seduced by the lure of easy V notch belaying and purchased this specifically for use in top rope situations where the climber is logging excessive air time but I was hoping that it would also serve as a good general purpose backup to my BD ATC for trad. My testing indicates that although it works, it is not especially good at either of these tasks. Recently, I've switched to using the B-52 which seems much better than the Jaws but I'm not sure I'd rush out to recommend it over the ATC (unless you want autoblocking). Here are the specifics on the Jaws:
  • Belaying: This device's trademark V notches are great for belaying offering an easy, low pressure, high strength rope lock. You need some more deligence regarding the angle at which you hold your brake hand (vs. an ATC) as the rope tends to slip out of the designated notches. With the ATC and other non-notched tubes, you don't have to excessively worry about the angle of your brake hand as there is there is no notch slipping to be worried about. Belaying seems to work much better for <=9mm than for >=10.2mm. For trad, some UIAA testers have recommended that static belay devices such as the Gri-Gri (and the Jaws) should not be used for belaying the leader. Oh well, one potential use down the tubes :-P
  • Rappelling: I've found that rappelling with the V notch side often causes the ropes to incorrectly enter the V notches due to the angle at which the rope enters the device. Unlike when you are belaying, this is not the time you want to continually readjust the rope so it enters the notches correctly. I've encountered this problem with both 7/10.2mm and 10.2/10.2mm rappels. This also seems to have smaller slots than the ATC as pushing double strands of 10.2mm into the device is harder than doing the same in the ATC. I've also rapped with the "smooth" side and found that it is rather slow compared to the ATC due to the sharper "edge". When I want to descend faster using the smooth side I have a tendency to get some mild rope burn due to rope "management" which is not an issue with the ATC.
  • Top Roping: I thought this would be a great device for top roping when the climber is logging excessive air time and indeed it is good for belaying. However, as with rappelling, it is painfully slow for lowering the climber afterwards and thus is not ideal. This is because (assuming you are using the V notch side), you don't have the option for flipping the device for lowering to use the "smooth" side but must use the slower V notch side.
After being thorougly unimpressed, I checked the Internet for reviews and found that it is mentioned as being specifically good for "using a pair of slick double or twin ropes, rappelling with a haul bag or belaying a heavy climber" (Clyde Soles - Rock & Ice Magazine #98). I've also read that it's great for rapping a single 9mm strand with a haul bag (Dr. Gary D. Storrick). Although it may have benefits in those specific circumstances, as a general purpose belay/rappel device, I find it lacking. Even if a new climber got this free, I would recommend buying an ATC as it simply works better in most situations. But since I don't use double/twin rope setups, rappel with haul bags, or belay "heavy" climbers at the moment, I consider this a waste of my money, but I'll update my review if I get around to those things.

Test Locations: Castle Rock State Park, CA; City of Rock, ID; Devils Tower, WY; Mission Cliffs, CA

Posted Sep 21, 2002 5:15 pm

Erik BeelerUntitled Review

Voted 3/5

Well a tube belay device is a belay device right? This one is fine and will keep you safe as the next if not more so because of the v shaped jaws. If you have a less experienced belayer or you are belaying someone much heavier than you then the jaws are great for creating extra friction and catching long falls.

Just dont expect the jaws to have smooth lowers. I got frusterated by the device and would only use it on the non-v side but kept waiting for it to "brake-in" so my lowers would be smoother. Finally my buddy stopped waiting and bought me a new device.

There are better devices such as the BD ATC-XP.
Posted Nov 16, 2003 10:11 pm

vertxUntitled Review

Voted 3/5

Like most of the reviews have said, this ATC has pro's and cons. 90% of the time I use the non-V notch side. This side works nearly as well for that as any other ATC. However, you actually have to pay attention when you are loading the ropes into the ATC.

The V-notch side has great holding power with very little effort. This is really nice when the climber is spending a lot of time hangdogging in the harness. In my opinion, however, the V-Notch side is best used on 1/2 ropes or double ropes.

This belay device works as advertised, which can be good or bad. If you only want one belay device hanging from your harness, this probably is not the one, but if it is the one you have, it certainly will do the job adequately. There are better and more versital products out there.
Posted Feb 11, 2004 4:32 pm

flechenbonesUntitled Review

Voted 3/5

I like versatile equipment and that led me to pick up the Trango Jaws since it has both low and high friction modes. High friction mode (HFM) may be useful for belay of heavier climbers and so it is typically on my wife's harness for that purpose. As of yet, we have not tried it for belay other than in low friction mode where it behaves like a normal ATC.

The more useful option for the HFM so far has been rapping on skinny ropes to better control speed and on long raps where the rope gets tangled and needs contstant attention. I have also found it useful to lend to people who do not have much experience because they have better control on rappel.

I have found that it is not jerky on rappel in HFM if the hand is raised relative to the device, as compared to a normal tube style device. As someone noted, the rope may slip out of the grooves occasionally; I have not had any difficulties reinserting it while on rappel if desired. The high amount of friction does create a lot of heat so be careful handling Jaws after or between long rappels. Incidently, the BD ATC-XP handles this by putting small gel plates on the side to reduce contact with the hot metal surface.

If you are a gram counter, the Trango Jaws is about 24% lighter than the BD ATC-XP.

Overall, I think the versatility of this device will keep it on my harness.
Posted May 13, 2004 1:26 pm

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