The Matik has been a long standing project for CAMP, who have put in a lot of time, effort, and money into getting its design and features right. The focus was to create an assisted breaking device that delivered unparalleled safety and control – no small order… Yet certain features such as the graduated camming action and anti-panic function definitely raised our interest when the product was first shown at the ISPO trade show earlier this year, the question is – how did it work in practice?
The Matik is compatible with a wide range of ropes from alarmingly thin (8.6mm!!) to reassuringly chunky (10.2mm) and one thing that was immediately noticeable was its effectiveness with modern, super thin (circa 9mm) single ropes. Now I am one of those luddites that hasn't upgraded/invested in a new assisted breaking device since I bought my first Gri Gri 10 years ago, hence the difference was quite noticeable: the Matik caught/grabbed effectively whilst taking in and arresting falls (as you’d hope - was very controllable whilst lowering, aided by the hinged lowering handle and straight rope orientation (which I’ll discuss in further detail later).
On the other end of the scale, one thing that was challenging was with ropes at the other end of the spectrum. A few years back I remember measuring the diameter of my 10.2mm; granted, it had been up El Cap a couple of times, Half Dome once, probably used for abseiling at some time or another, and also been my sport rope since the dawn of time, BUT I was still shocked when it weighed in at a meaty 12mm (I mean it was thick, but not that thick). Anyhow, I digress… I don’t think I am unique in owning such a rope, everyone has one, and this is where a potential problem arises: the Matik is arguably too grabby on such ropes. This makes it difficult, but not impossible, to pay out slack and belay effectively. Now there are obvious solutions to this problem*, but if you’re like me and you have a rope for red-pointing and a rope for dogging/working then you don’t want a separate belay device for each of these. I suspect that this will become less of an issue in time, as it appears that nowadays the standard single rope is actually sub 10mm, but for those of us with that tatty rope in the corner it is worth mentioning.
On the note of belaying effectively, it has to be said that you do need to take time to learn how to use the Matik. As mentioned previously, I have come from using a Gri Gri and am therefore used to the rope going out the side, whereas on the Matik it is designed to come out the front in order to eliminate the twisting action. It took a bit of getting used to, both on my part and my climbing partners' who were short roped a few times whilst I was getting used to it. That said, once familiar it became second nature and – to those not already familiar with using an assisted breaking device – would probably be a far more natural action simply due to its similarity to a standard belay device.
One of the other key features of the Matik is the panic function built into the release mechanism (or the lowering handle, I wasn’t really sure what to call it!). When lowering, you hit the sweet spot mid-release where your partner is moving steadily downwards; just after this, right at the end/limit of the handle's pull, it automatically locks (watch the video above for a demonstration). Once-again, this is a good function for use with beginners as the automatic reaction is to yank as hard as they can on the device. The only thing about this is that once lowered, when...how shall I put this...there is the unwritten rule amongst gentlemen and lady alike where paying out a bit if slack so that your climbing partner’s…sensitive parts…are given some time/space to recover. This scenario can become somewhat tricky with the Matik, because when the handle is fully released it goes into panic mode, not release - thus causing your partner to panic more owing to the fact they very much wish to release the undue pressure on the aforementioned sensitive areas. A simple solution is to thumb the catch at the base of the device, but it's sometimes hard to think straight in such scenarios...
Another unique function of the Matik is its gradual camming action that is designed to reduce impact force and allow a softer catch. It does this by allowing the cam to run alongside it before engaging it, rather than the simple blunt action that most assisted breaking devices offer. The idea behind this is that not only does it reduce the impact force - which is better for your body, gear and rope - but also allows a much softer catch than many of its competitors. Now I am not here to test these figures objectively (as many will wish to on the Forums), but from a subjective climber's perspective I did notice a difference; however, that said I still think it requires knowledge of how to give a soft catch before it can truly be used effectively - something many British climbers are guilty of not knowing (click here to read Adrian Berry's UKC Article on Belaying Dynamically). Without this knowledge users can expect to find a subtle difference, but certainly not make the most of it.
If you are after a well made, high spec assisted breaking device then look no further.
It’s built to last and has a whole range of useful features that no other device has on offer; however, if you are after such a top of the range device you will ideally need a thinner, performance rope to go alongside it as you may have trouble paying out with your older/thicker workhorse.
What CAMP say:
The assisted braking action of the Matik derives from an innovative camming design that makes the device safer and easier on the climber, the belayer, the anchor and the rope.
- A revolutionary belay-descender device with assisted braking that delivers unparalleled safety and control
- Gradual camming action reduces the impact force of a fall and decreases wear and tear on the rope
- Proprietary Anti-Panic system automatically blocks the rope if the user loses control of the descent
- Double-hinged lever and straight rope path make the descent feel very fluid and controlled
- Intuitive design eliminates the possibility of clipping a carabiner to the device if it is not completely closed
- Wide attachment hole allows the carabiner to rotate through the hole
- High-end manufacturing with hot-forged aluminum main body and precision-cast stainless steel for the critical components that come in contact with the rope
- For single dynamic ropes from 8.6 to 10.2 mm
- RRP: £90
About the Author:
Rob Greenwood is the Advertising Manager at UKClimbing.com.
He's a passionate climber, hot yoga addict and eater of vegetarian food. He has done more UK trad routes than he's had roast dinners (and that's got nothing to do with the vegetarianism).
Aside from UK trad, he's dabbled with alpine climbing, Scottish winter, Himalayan climbing and more recently Peak limestone sport climbing.
- He keeps an occasional blog about his adventures here: Rob Greenwood Climbing